Extension discussions between guard Lou Williams and the LA Clippers have gathered significant momentum, and a new contract is within reach before Thursday afternoon’s NBA trade deadline, league sources told ESPN.
Rival teams were increasingly resigned late Tuesday night that Williams, 31, was exiting the trade market and returning to the Clippers on a multiyear contract, league sources said.
Williams’ career season of 23.3 points per game, the Clippers’ surprising team success and the stability of staying with an organization with which he has grown comfortable has pushed him toward the extension over chasing free agency this summer, league sources said.
Because of Williams’ stature as one of the most pursued players on the trade market, his looming commitment to remain with the Clippers could serve as an impetus to get a sluggish trade deadline into gear on Wednesday.
Losing Williams off the trade market will likely intensify the pursuit for Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, whom several teams have been separately pursuing. Memphis is trying to get a first-round pick for Evans, and Boston, Denver and Philadelphia are among the teams most interested in acquiring Evans.
Williams is earning $7 million in the final year of his contract. He is having the best season of his career with the Clippers, averaging 23.3 points and 5.3 assists. Across 12 years with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, the Lakers and Houston, Williams averaged 13.5 points.
The Clippers have discussed trade scenarios for center DeAndre Jordan, but league sources said that, so far, no traction exists on a deal, and there’s a real possibility that Jordan will finish the season with the Clippers. Jordan can opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.
After trading All-Star forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons for a deal that included Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley going to Los Angeles, the Clippers are 27-25 and a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.