MIAMI – The yellow rope had been arranged carefully around the perimeter of the court at AmericanAirlines Arena. Less than a minute remained and the San Antonio Spurs were up by five points, so out of necessity, the logistics and security of their trophy presentation were underway.
In moments, that rope would be pulled high and tight, sealing the court like the something velvet separating the unwashed from South Beach’s swankiest. The Larry O’Brien trophy would be hustled onto the floor as most of the Miami Heat fans who hadn’t already left found the exits. Celtics legend Bill Russell would amble onto the floor, too, to hand off the eponymous hardware given to The Finals MVP.
Then and there, that figured to be Tim Duncan, who, hmm, just happened to have checked out of the game with 28.2 seconds left, his side up 94-89.
In perhaps the most glaring celebration shutdown since the Lakers’ infamous balloons high in the rafters of Los Angeles’ Forum went pfffft! against the Boston Celtics in the 1969 Finals, that “victory rope” Tuesday night in south Florida got turned into crime-scene tape.
So steady and fundamentally sound, the Spurs failed not once but twice at one of the game’s essential skills. Maybe you’ve heard of it: No rebounds, no rings. Plenty of nightmares, though.
And the Miami Heat, just seconds from elimination in six games and an endless summer of second-guessing and rebuke, were revived. Alive. And finally in control again, their 103-100 overtime victory tucked away along with momentum what’s left of the 2013 Finals and the home court for Game 7.
As for LeBron James, the lightning rod for so much criticism and praise and everything in between, he’s not letting people write him or his team off quite yet. In the fourth quarter and overtime, he had 18 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block (of Duncan) in capping another triple-double. He shot 8-for-14, threw off one headband, went from hero to goat and back again several times over and summarized the whole evening better than those actually charged with doing so.
“It was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” a thoroughly relaxed (and relieved?) James told reporters after midnight. “The ups and downs, the roller coaster, the emotions, good and bad through the whole game. To be a part of something like this is something you would never be able to recreate once you’re done playing the game.
“I’m blessed to be a part of something like this. And I’m happy about the way we dug down and were able to get a win it didn’t look like we could muster up at some point in the game.”
MIAMI – The most important play in a game isn’t always the one you remember most. Sometimes, it’s subtle and doesn’t even make the highlight reel. Sometimes, something as simple as a change in possession can be more important than a shot that does or doesn’t go in.
The NBA has a way to use analytics to figure out just which plays had the biggest impact on a close game. It’s a “leverage” model that was developed to evaluate and instruct referees by pointing out which calls or no-calls had the biggest impact on a game’s result.
Here’s the idea: At every point of a game, each team has a certain probability of winning. Putting the quality of each team to the side, when the game tips off, the home team has a 60 percent probability of winning and the road team has a 40 percent probability of winning. After the first basket, those numbers haven’t changed much. But if the home team is up 10 with the ball and five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, their win probability (WP) is obviously a lot greater than 60 percent.
So, by calculating win probability both before and after a play occurs, it can be determined just how important that play was. Score, possession and location are the factors. And obviously, plays in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter (or overtime) in a close game are more important than any others.
Using the league’s data model, we’ve determined the three most important plays of Game 6 of The Finals — an incredible 103-100 overtime win for the Miami Heat, sending The Finals to a Game 7 for the 18th time.
This was a wild game, with many huge plays. In fact, each of the three plays below had a bigger impact on win probability than any play from Games 2-5.
You know Ray Allen made the biggest play, but which play that was might surprise you.
3. +18.4 percent – Parker drains a 3 to tie it
A 12-4 Heat run had turned a five-point deficit into a three-point lead with two minutes to go. The Spurs seemed to have nothing going on their next possession and Tony Parker was left isolated on LeBron James with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock.
Then, he pulled out a shot we didn’t know he had, stepping back for a game-tying 3 with 1:27 on the clock. He followed that up with a steal and a short turnaround shot in the lane to put the Spurs up two.
The 3 changed the Spurs’ WP from 22.0 percent to 40.4 percent.
2. +25.6 percent – Parker misses the game-winner in regulation
After Allen drained the game-tying, season-saving 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation, the Spurs still had a 67.3 win probability because they had possession of the ball.
Note: The NBA model assumes a team has the ability to advance the ball with a timeout here, but San Antonio had none left. Still, the difference in WP wouldn’t have knocked this play out of the No. 2 spot.
Parker was able to go about 80 feet in those 5.2 seconds, but he couldn’t get a good shot off.
With the game going to overtime, the home team (Miami) now had the win probability edge. It was 32.7 percent before the play and 58.3 percent when the regulation buzzer sounded.
1. +30.8 percent – Allen strips Ginobili
The Spurs hadn’t scored since the 2:42 mark of overtime, but still had a chance to win the game after Dwyane Wade missed a shot with 10 seconds left.
Parker was out of the game for defensive purposes and the Spurs didn’t use their final timeout. Instead, Kawhi Leonard got the ball to Manu Ginobili, who raced down the floor and attacked the basket through a crowd. Allen got his hand on the ball (and maybe Ginboli’s wrist) as Ginobili rose for a shot.
“We thought it was a foul going down the middle,” Tim Duncan said afterward. “We get two free throws and we’re talking about something different here, if that happens.”
Instead, it was Ginobili’s eighth turnover of the game and it increased the Heat’s WP from 60.1 percent to 90.9 percent. Allen’s subsequent free throws made it 99.7 percent with the Spurs still having a chance to tie with 1.9 seconds left.
What about Allen’s trey?
Allen’s game-tying 3 didn’t rank in the top three plays, because it only increased the Heat’s WP by 10.8 percent, from 22.0 percent to 32.7 percent. Remember that an average possession is worth a little over one point. So, with the Spurs in possession of the ball after the 3, they still had a strong chance of winning.
MIAMI — The headband. The one-shoed 3-pointer. The Ray Allen corner jumper. However you want to remember the Miami Heat’s 103-100 overtime Game 6 win, for the San Antonio Spurs it might be best known as the game they want to forget.
Consider: The Spurs led by 10 points going into the fourth quarter, were up five with 28.2 seconds to play, and were up again by three with 2:42 to play in OT. But the Heat consistently found ways to make plays and finish on top. Which left the Spurs, in the words of Manu Ginobili, “devastated.”
“It was a hell of a game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “ It was an overtime game. It was a game of mistakes. And they ended up on the winning side.”
Several Spurs posted major performances with the chance to deliver Miami a knockout punch, such as Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 22 points and 11 boards (and early on had a monster dunk over Mike Miller). But it was Leonard’s missed free throw with 19.4 seconds remaining in regulation that left the door open for Miami and caused “Nick Anderson” to become a trending topic on Twitter.
For all of Manu Ginobili’s brilliance in Game 5 — he finished with 24 points, 10 assists and three turnovers — the Heat confounded him at nearly every turn throughout Game 6. Ginobili finished with nine points and eight turnovers in just over 34 minutes of play, including a turnover with the Spurs down by two and 2.4 seconds left in overtime.
“I had a very good game last game, and I just couldn’t maintain it,” Ginobili said. “I was very insecure — well, I had a career high in turnovers in a really bad moment. It really helps to make me feel terrible.
“Even with all that, we were so close of winning it. So, it’s one of the many things I’ll be thinking tonight.”
Throughout the Spurs’ dynasty, we’ve grown used to seeing them finish games with poise, and time and again finish off opponents. Yet, for whatever reason, in Tuesday’s Game 6 the Spurs couldn’t find that resolve.
“We didn’t exhale at all,” said Tim Duncan, who had a monster first half (25 points and eight boards) before finishing with 30 and 17. “We continued to make some plays. We missed some free throws down the stretch that could have clinched it for us. As I said, we get a stop, we get a bad bounce and right out to Ray [Allen] for a 3. We get stops before that and get rebounds, push them out, we put ourselves in a great situation. It was just unfortunate the bounces that we get, but that’s how basketball goes. They’re a very good team over there and they continue to play right down to the wire.”
Now the Spurs have less than 48 hours to forget this game and what might have been, and instead focus squarely on a decisive Game 7. Popovich said in order to get the Spurs prepared after such a heartbreaking loss, he will take a pragmatic approach: “Get them on the bus, it arrives at the ramp over here, we get off the bus, we get on the court and we play. That’s how we get ready.”
“I have no clue how we’re going to be re-energized,” Ginobili said. “I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards. We’re going to have to play our best game, even better than today. Shoot better, better defense, less turnovers in my case. But yeah, there’s no secret recipe for bouncing back.”
“We have no choice,” said Tony Parker, who finished with 19 points and 8 assists and no turnovers, but admitted he was battling cramps down the stretch. “We have to bounce back. We have to realize we have another great opportunity. It’s going to be another great game.”
“It is what it is,” said Duncan. “It’s a one-game series now.”
24 – So, LeBron James hit the court two hours early to get his pregame work in, huh? That says the man recognizes the magnitude of this moment and has prepared himself properly to man up to it. As ridiculous as it sounds to criticize the four-time MVP and the world’s best player, LeBron knows he has not left his mark on this series. If the Heat go down tonight, it won’t be without a desperate fight from LeBron, which is exactly the way it has to be when you are the best player in the game. Season on the line, you have to show up and set the tone from the start on both ends.
23 – I love that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stuck with Mike Miller in his starting lineup. As much as you need a defender in the game to slow down Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and the Spurs’ other shooters, you need shot makers on the floor in an elimination games. Miller is aggressive early, which exactly what the Heat need him to be in this situation.
22 –Kawhi Leonard is absolutely fearless. Goes at LeBron on the break, ‘bows him out of the way and finishes with the hoop and the foul. Drains a corner 3-pointer two possessions later. The Spurs are aggressive early, Leonard and Tim Duncan in particular, showing absolutely no hesitation.
20 – Kawhi “Captain Corn Rows” Leonard just posterized Miller on a sweet feed from Tony Parker. I’m not sure what’s more impressive, Leonard’s eight early points or the fact that he’s the last man in the league still rocking corn rows (and doing it without any fancy designs or anything special; just straight ol’ school, straight-to-the-back corn rows). The 70s are proud of you, young fella! BTW, the Spurs are up two and DDG hasn’t even taken a shot yet.
19 – Duncan is working on a perfect night right now (6-for-6, 12 points and 3 rebounds). I wonder how history will remember Duncan? It certainly seems like we all take him for granted in the present. We don’t appreciate the greatness of his game and fact that he’s more than just the most fundamentally sound power forward to play this game, perhaps ever. He won’t have the flashiest highlight video to look back on in 20 years. But there aren’t but a handful of players who will be able to say they played at an elite level for as long as he did during his Hall of Fame career.
18 – Heat pulling out all the stops tonight; Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Mario Chalmers and even Shane Battier‘s 3-point bankshot to tie the game. It’s going to be that kind of night, I can feel it. ‘Rio already has 10 points in the first quarter and is 4-for-5 from the floor. If he’s aggressive like this all night, the Spurs are going to have to figure out a way to keep him from duplicating the work he did in Game 2.
17 – Chris Bosh was wrong … DDG is still getting open looks from deep. Still knocking ‘em down, too.
16 – Duncan has 25 before halftime with a hand in his face on every possession. The Spurs are 14-2 in closeout game since 2003 for a reason. His name is The Big Fundamental! He’s 11-for-13 and dominating the Heat in every facet of the game right now. He’s putting on an absolute showcase right now, outscoring Miami’s Big 3 by his lonesome, 25-21. The rest of the Spurs matched his 25 first half points and they lead by six at the break.
15 – The Spurs’ 17-4 run to finish the second quarter might very well be the most impressive stretch by either team in this entire series. Duncan, Boris Diaw, Leonard … unreal effort, unbelievable mettle and just a complete demolition of the Heat on both ends during the run. The Spurs own the Heat inside with a 32-12 scoring edge in the paint in the first half.
14 – Where you at LeBron? Nine points (on 3-for-9 shooting) is not going to get your team to a Game 7.
13 – Third quarter starts without Wade. Ray Allen is out there for him. It has to be that knee. No word from the Heat PR staff until after the game, per Doris Burke’s sideline report.
12 – The Heat’s night in a nutshell to this point: LeBron has Parker guarding him in the low post, Heat swing the ball all around the floor until Bosh gets it on the opposite baseline bricks a jumper off of the far side of the rim. The Heat are completely out of sorts on offense right now. The only thing saving them right now is that they are turning the Spurs over (courtesy of Ginobili, whose Game 5 magic has worn off completely).
11 – Leonard is having the sort of bully-ball game you expected LeBron to have. The Spurs’ 11-0 run here late in the third quarter is one of those backbreaking stretches in a game like this. The Heat’s inability to slow them down is startling. Credit the Spurs for sticking to what they do best, and that’s unleashing all of the weapons in their arsenal to take away what you do best. The Heat are being overwhelmed on their home floor the same way they were in 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks in a Game 6.
10 – Wade is on the bench changing his shoes with 10.3 seconds to play in the third. Maybe he has an extra pair for LeBron, because if they Heat don’t come up with something to change the momentum in this games in the next six minutes, the Spurs are going to break them down the stretch with their execution and claim title No. 5.
9 – “Shoeless” Mike Miller with the 3-point dagger to cut the lead 77-73. Spoelstra imploring his team to “trust each other” at this stage of the season sounds a bit strange. But the message seems to be working. The comeback is officially on, with the Heat’s rally lineup (LeBron, Miller, Allen, Birdman and Chalmers) on the floor. Granted, the Heat’s rush has come with both Duncan and Parker resting on that Spurs bench.
8 – Bully LeBron has finally come alive and he’s ridiculous force of nature when he plays like this. He’s overpowering Leonard, Duncan, Ginobili and whoever else gets in his way around the rim. Desperate times call for desperate measures, apparently. A block on Duncan under the basket triggers a break the other way and LeBron ties the game at 82-82 with a layup at the 6:37 mark. Allen gives the Heat the lead on a reverse layup with 6:03 to play. Crazy turnaround for the Heat and it’s all been fueled by the man without the headband, who is in full blow attack the rim mode right down the stretch. Heat on a 22-7 run right now and LeBron has 11 points during the run.
7 – Wade comes back for Miller with 3:48 to play, taking away the other long distance shooter (along with Allen) who caused the Spurs so much trouble during the comeback. Those shooters forced the Spurs to cover the perimeter and leave lanes for LeBron to drive to the rim and change the entire flow of the game for both teams. We’ll see if that substitution comes back to bite the Heat in these final minutes.
6 – Duncan and Parker are scoreless in the fourth quarter inside the final dos minutos of the biggest game, so far, of the Spurs’ season. How they are within three points is beyond me. It’s a testament to the system and all of the cold-blooded role players on that roster.
4 – LeBron turnover under the basket, Spurs on the break and Ginobili is fouled with 37.2 left. Sinks both free throws and a 93-89 Spurs lead. Unreal. Another LeBron turnover and Ginobili is fouled again and drains the second of two free throws. 94-89 with 28.2 left. LeBron goes from the goat to the hero and now back to the goat in the final seconds. I say that Wade for Miller substitution changed the flow for the Heat. Could very well cost them this game.
3 – LeBron bricks a 3-pointer and gets the ball back after a wild scramble and drains the 3-pointer that cuts the lead to 94-92 with 20.1 to play. Money time for both teams here and Duncan is not on the floor (gotta have your best rebounder on the floor Pop, I don’t care what is going on). Leonard misses the first of two free throws but sinks the second with 19.4 to play. Oooohhhhhh!!!!!!! Allen drains the corner 3 to tie it up with 5.2 to play. Winning time, with LeBron on Parker and TP air balls the last shot of regulation. Unreal finish to the first 48 minutes. Allen might not have the 3-point record anymore but it was his shot that keep this game alive. Five more minutes of what has turned out to be the best game of the entire NBA season. I’ll take it.
2 – Overtime is like a mini-movie of the entire series in five minutes, complete with turnovers, big shots, clutch rebounds, timely blocks, stunning mistakes,star turns from everyone from Duncan, Parker and Leonard to James, Wade and Bosh, whose work rebounding and on defense help propel the Heat to a Game 7.
1 – Fitting end to a fantastic game. Allen knocks down two free throws for the winning margin and Bosh comes up with the clutch block on DDG at the buzzer. All those Heat fans booing Bosh earlier in this game can thank their lucky stars they had him tonight because he did the dirty work (rebound and kick to Allen was as clutch as the block at the end) down the stretch to help deliver the Heat. Allen with nine points in the fourth quarter and overtime, doing exactly what a future Hall of Famer is supposed to do, helps save the Heat, as well. But if LeBron hadn’t come alive in the fourth the Spurs would be popping bottles in their locker room right now. Game 7 here we come!
It was two weeks ago when the Spurs wrapped up their final practice before the start of The Finals and I had just walked out of their training facility on the northwest side of San Antonio when a shiny Mercedes-Benz pulled up along side of me in the parking lot.
The automatic window slid down on the passenger side and a voice yelled out: “Hey, could you answer a question for me?”
When I bent down to look in, Gregg Popovich pulled off his sunglasses and asked several: “Could you please tell me why I’m driving to the airport right now? Could you tell me why I’m making this trip to Miami? Could you tell me why I should even bother wasting my time with a foregone conclusion?”
When I smiled, he kept on going.
“I don’t know what everybody expects out of us, out of me. I mean, I’ve got Timmy Duncan. He’s 37 and a broken down old man. I’ve got another old man with Manu Ginobili, who’s always falling apart. I’ve got this skinny French kid Tony Parker. And then just a bunch of guys.
“They’ve got LeBron James. He’s the greatest player in the league right now, maybe the greatest of all time. And they’ve got Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This is lopsided. This is unfair. This is ridiculous.”
So the Spurs have a 3-2 lead and a chance to clinch the fifth NBA championship in franchise history tonight at American Airlines Arena.
This, of course, is why we play the games and don’t settle them on paper or in the minds of the so-called experts. Otherwise, we’d already be joining in the James’ proclamation from the summer of 2010: “Not one, not two, not three…”
Standing in the Texas swelter that afternoon in the parking lot, the daunting image of the defending champions rose like the shimmering heat off the blacktop, the team that had a league-best 66-16 record and won an incredible 27 consecutive games — second-best streak in NBA history — in the regular season.
But that was all before a 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard stoically accepted the challenge of matching up with the best player on the planet and began to do everything he could to keep him from blowing like the top off a volcano dome. He’s making shots inside and outside. He’s rebounding. He’s passing. All while having primary responsibility on the series’ biggest threat.
The Spurs have used a smothering, suffocating, double- and triple-teaming effort to keep the cork in James’ bottle and have held him to 21.6 ppg in The Finals, down from 29 in the Eastern Conference finals and down from 25.6 ppg for the playoffs. He is shooting just 41.2 percent. James has certainly made his presence felt, but not as an unstoppable force who can take over a game singlehandedly. Rave over all those 3-pointers by the Spurs, if you must. It says here that Leonard is the MVP to date, along with the coach who entrusted him.
That was all before the Spurs had for the most part kept Wade from hitting their beach like a tsunami. Before Danny Green became the reincarnation of “Mr. Clutch,” Jerry West. Before Popovich lit a fire under the struggling Ginobili by inserting him into the starting lineup for Game 5. Before Parker hit his iconic “up-off-the-knees” banker to win Game 1. Before Duncan showed just how much professionalism a 37-year-old big man can still deliver. And before the Spurs have been able to match Miami’s small-ball lineup effectively and thereby kept the nuisance effectiveness of Chris Andersen chained to the bench.
That was all before the Spurs have done what they’ve always done — kept their heads down and focused solely on the task at hand, never doubting themselves and never wavering, even in the six years that it’s taken them to get back to The Finals.
They’re too old, too worn out, too overmatched by the high-flying marquee names of the Heat. Until they’re not.
All I can think of is leaning into the window of Popovich’s car, while wondering why the floor in front of the passenger seat is filled with dozens and dozens of empty plastic water bottles.
“Is this an eco-friendly green machine that you bought from Al Gore or are you just a slob?” I asked him.
Pop finally stopped his rant.
“The truth is I’ve been looking for a recycling center for weeks now, but I can’t find one,” he said. “You know what? That’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll just keep driving around town until I find a place to dump all of these bottles instead of going to the airport.
“I mean, really, what’s the point of going to Miami if you’re the San Antonio Spurs? What can happen there?”
He pushed the sunglasses back on his nose, shifted the car into gear, gave a wave and drove away, grinning.
After months of vasciliating over his future — from saying he would only come to the NBA as a top-10 pick to applying for the Draft when it seemed unlikely he would be top 10, to statements he would not be in the 2013 pool — Croatian small forward Dario Saric officially removed his name from consideration.
Projected to be chosen in the middle of the first round and possibly get to the end of the lottery, Saric was among 18 players who filed before the Monday deadline, the NBA announced Tuesday. The other notable was Mouhammadou Jaiteh, likely headed for the second round.
Two players from the United States withdrew, Norvel Pelle, trying to jump start his career after going from a top prospect in high school to being unable to find stability in college, and Joshua Simmons.
The 16 others were from overseas: Francois Affia Ambadiang, Nemanja Besovic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Matias Bortolin, Linos Chrysikopoulos, Dorde Drenovac, Viktor Gaddefors, Jaiteh, Louis Labeyrie, Philipp Neumann, Artem Pustovyi, Marko Ramljak, Saric, Walter Tavares, Axel Toupane, and Adin Vrabac.
MIAMI – San Antonio has the advantage in games, Miami has the advantage in urgency. And there’s not much Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can say that is going to change any of that, heading into Game 6 of the 2013 Finals Tuesday night (9 p.m. ET, ABC) at AmericanAirlines Arena.
There’s not much that Popovich can say, frankly, that could change much of anything for his team. At least as he tells it.
“This group’s been together for a while now, the core group,” Popovich said after San Antonio’s morning shootaround session. “I kind of have the feeling that by now, when I start to speak, they either roll their eyes or they shut off their ears or, like Timmy [Duncan], he looks at me and says, ‘I got it’ and I don’t have to say anything.
“They’re all pros. As I’ve said a lot of times, they’ve got kids, they’ve got families, they all know what their jobs are. That’s one of the reasons we’re in The Finals. That’s why Miami’s in The Finals. They do their jobs.”
The job for the Heat is clear: Survive, for a chance to do it all again in a Game 7 that would be played Thursday. Flex whatever edge playing at home provides. Beat a savvy opponent that is 3-0 in close-out games this postseason.
The job for the Spurs might be just as daunting: Get it done now. Don’t be thinking about a backup plan for Game 7 while trying to nail down Game 6. Bring that road focus (San Antonio is 29-19 in away games since the start of the season).
Oh, and do it against LeBron James and the NBA’s defending champions at their most desperate and driven.
Facing an opponent that’s facing elimination, the Spurs know the Heat and coach Erik Spoelstra will hold nothing back. Any scheme, any lineup, any gamble will be in play as needed.
“You think about different scenarios that an opponent might use,” Popovich said. “Usually you’re wasting your time because it’s just basketball. We all do what we do. We try to throw in a wrinkle, we try to do this or do that. But basically teams are who they are.”
Who Miami is in Game 6 might be made known real fast, Spurs guard Danny Green said. Green already expects more attentive coverage from the Heat defense – a nod to his 25-of-38 3-point shooting so far in the series, as vowed by Heat forwardChris Boshat his team’s shootaround. The more defensive resources Miami devotes to him, Green said, the more likely something else in San Antonio’s offense will come open.
Mostly, Green thinks the champs will hit the court hard, in every way possible, in the first five minutes after tipoff. And that, he said ,will be good for both sides.
“I think a lot of guys are tired. Have a lot of butterflies,” Green said. “I think that first five minutes, you kind of settle in and get more of a handle on the game. And how the rhythm’s going to go and how the referees are going to call it. How they’re attacking and how we’re attacking. How well we’re shooting.
“The first five minutes is what we adjust to.”
The first five minutes might be more of an esoteric, “feel” thing – because it has predicted nothing so far between these teams. At 7:00 of the first quarter, San Antonio has led four times and been tied once, with no correlation to winning or losing the game. Even in Miami’s two blowout victories in Games 2 and 4, the Spurs each time led by five after five.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Well, that was fun while it lasted.
But the proposed trade between the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics, the one that would have sent Kevin Garnett, DeAndre Jordan and a couple of Draft picks, along with Doc Rivers in a separate scenario, across country in different directions is now “dead,” according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times:
Yes, folks, the deal is "dead, dead, dead." No Doc, KG to Clippers— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 18, 2013
The final sticking point that stopped the deal was Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge insisting that Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks give the Celtics two No. 1 draft picks along with DeAndre Jordan, said league officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Sacks was prepared to trade Jordan and one No. 1 pick for the rights to negotiate with Rivers and to acquire Garnett, but refused to add another first-round pick, the executives said.
The Clippers and Celtics started talks again early Tuesday morning, knowing that Eric Bledsoe wasn’t going to be in the deal, but were still unable to make a connection.
The Clippers now move on to having more conversations with Byron Scott and Brian Shaw, the executives said.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed to the Globe that the proposed Celtics-Clippers blockbuster deal that would have sent both Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett to the Clippers is, in fact, “dead.”
The Clippers began leaking word Tuesday that the Celtics’ asking price of DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks in exchange for Rivers and Garnett was too steep, and they were set to move on and hire either Lionel Hollins or Brian Shaw as a new coach.
A league source confirmed to the Globe that the main hangup in the deal was that the Clippers did not want to give up a second first-round draft pick.
Now, Rivers is certainly in an interesting position.
Because of a non-compete clause in the five-year extension he signed in 2011, Rivers can’t coach anywhere else for the next three years unless the Celtics grant permission.
But Rivers, according to league sources, is not at all enamored with the idea of coaching a rebuilding team.
Did the Clippers get cold feet?
Did the Celtics?
Maybe Doc had second thoughts about being involved in this sort of bizarre trade scenario?
Whatever the breakdown, the deal appears to be dead … for now.
“He has a knack for shooting, but he won’t be open tonight,” Chris Bosh said after the Heat’s shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday. “We’ll see how he shoots it when somebody’s always on him.”
Bosh said that the Heat don’t have to make any adjustments to defend Green better in Game 6 (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
“It’s just doing what we do,” Bosh said. “Last game, we didn’t do what we normally do. Guys were open and made shots.
“They move the ball too well to have defensive lapses. So we’re going to have to trust what we do.”
The Heat can be a terrific defensive team when they’re active, focused and everyone’s on the same page. The problem is that the activity, focus and communication comes and goes. They haven’t put two great defensive games together all postseason.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Admit it, you’re going to miss DeAndre Jordan in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform. You’re going to miss the dunks and the off-court comic pairing with Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin.
But if we are reading this Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Clippers-Doc Rivers trade situation right, Jordan is headed to Boston in one part of a complex potential trade scenario that also will include Rivers departing Boston for the Clippers and the chance to chase championships with a few familiar faces (Kevin Garnett and perhaps Paul Pierce) as well as a few new ones (Griffin and potentially Chris Paul).
Monday’s hot name, Eric Bledsoe, the player both sides refused to budge on, is apparently out of the deal now.
It’s complicated, I know. But aren’t these blockbuster scenarios always a bit more complicated than the average trade?
The latest from around the basketball world on this saga …
Celtics ready to deal for Jordan and two first-round Draft picks …
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: After pushing for the Clippers to take back long-term contracts, the Celtics relented and have shown willingness to complete the deal for DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks, sources said. The Clippers are willing to give the Celtics Jordan and one draft pick, but were resisting a second future pick, sources said.
The two teams are planning to talk again on Tuesday morning, and the fragile negotiations could climax over the draft pick compensation, sources said.
If the Clippers become the championship contenders that they expected this trade will make them, the additional draft pick would likely be near the end of the first round.
The financial investment in this deal for Los Angeles is unprecedented for the franchise, and it could be giving it 11th-hour pause. The Clippers must pay a $3.5 million trade kicker on Jordan’s contract and finalize an agreement with Rivers on a five-year deal worth approximately $35 million, league sources said.
Serious talks but still no deal …
Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com: Sources close to the process told ESPN.com that the Celtics and Clippers held “substantive discussions” Monday on the proposed multilayered transactions that would send Rivers and Celtics star Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles. But the teams, sources say, remain unable to agree on a final trade framework to go through with the two deals, even after Boston relented on its insistence that the Clippers include prized young guard Eric Bledsoe as part of the package for Rivers and Garnett.
Another element of the talks, sources said, is the negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers on a coaching contract. Rivers has three years left on his original five-year, $35 million deal with the Celtics and will be looking to stay in the same salary range if Boston ultimately receives what it deems sufficient compensation to let the 51-year-old out of that deal.
So the Clippers, in what NBA coaching sources are terming a “separate process,” have moved ahead with their coaching search just in case, for one reason or another, they’ll be unable to pry Rivers out of Boston. They’ve arranged sitdowns this week for Byron Scott (Tuesday) and Brian Shaw (Wednesday) with Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Lionel Hollins, the other finalist for the Clippers’ job before the pursuit of Rivers got serious, already met with Sterling.
Numerous sources connected to talks continued to express optimism Monday that the Celtics and Clippers will eventually agree to terms this week, with some interpreting the Clippers’ plans to resume talks with the likes of Shaw and Scott as their latest thinly veiled message to the Celtics that they aren’t afraid to walk away from the table.
“It’s a dance right now,” said one source close to the process. “I think it’ll eventually happen. They’re just staring at each other.”
Is Ainge satisfied with this haul?
Sam Amick of USA Today: The only question that matters at the moment is whether Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge eventually will decide that acquiring fifth-year center DeAndre Jordan and two future first-round picks is fair compensation for losing his coach and his 37-year-old big man.
If he does, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, this deal will likely get done. If he doesn’t, and instead insists that third-year Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe must also be in the trade, then Rivers and Garnett would stay put and the Clippers would simply hire one of the coaching candidates who have interviewed for their vacant job (former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw lead that group).
While Celtics small forward Paul Pierce is not part of the trade talks, he could be bought out of the final year of his contract this July ($5 million of his $15.3 million) and join Rivers and Garnett with the Clippers as a free agent if this deal went down. The people spoke to USA TODAYSports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.
While Rivers would not technically be part of the trade, the Celtics would allow the Clippers to sign him as part of the agreement. Rivers has a non-compete clause in his contract that would be nullified, and he would forgo the three years and $21 million remaining on his Celtics contract.The Clippers are prepared to pay him just less than $7 million annually, but only if they can bring him in without mortgaging their future by losing Bledsoe.
Yet if Rivers were willing consider giving back some of his earnings as a way to ease Ainge’s pain, that could be a way to nudge these negotiations along. The Celtics could move forward with a new coach whose salary would be, in essence, paid for by the old coach.
Rivers still grappling with his decision?
Gary Washburn of TheBoston Globe: If the Celtics plan to part with Rivers, they want a young piece, draft picks and salary cap relief. Realizing that signing [Jason] Terry and [Courtney] Lee to multiyear deals at the mid-level exception (5-plus million) was a mistake, the Celtics would prefer the Clippers accept those deals to facilitate clearance to negotiate a contract with Rivers.
Meanwhile, a source close to Rivers told the Globe that Rivers is still grappling with the decision, especially as the trade gets more complicated and negotiations more contentious. The talk of the Clippers acquiring Paul Pierce in the trade are remote, especially since the Celtics would have to honor his deal and send him to the Clippers with a $15 million salary.
And don’t expect the Celtics to waive Pierce just to see him sign with the Clippers during free agency. If they decide to trade Pierce, and NBA sources said the team is open to the possibility, they want a return for his services unless waiving him will allow him enough salary cap space to sign a solid free agent.
The consensus around the league is that a decision on this has to be made this week and Rivers is looking worse by the day because of his indecisiveness.
Key decision makers, Ainge and Sacks, stuck in neutral …
Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times: The main characters are Boston Coach Doc Rivers and All-Star forward Kevin Garnett, trying to get to the Clippers as a duo. The men calling the shots — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks — can’t seem to reach agreement on a mutually satisfactory deal.
So both organizations were stuck in neutral by Monday evening after player names were tossed back and forth, the talks at a standstill but not completely over, according to NBA executives who did not want to be identified by name because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the situation.
The two sides intend to keep the talks alive Tuesday. But the Clippers also plan to have coaching candidates Byron Scott and Brian Shaw meet with owner Donald Sterling this week in case the team can’t make a deal to get Rivers, executives said.
Shaw, associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers, on Tuesday is scheduled to meet for the second time with the Denver Nuggets about their head-coach vacancy. Then Shaw is to meet with Sterling on Wednesday. Shaw interviewed face to face with the Clippers last week, but this will be his first sit-down with Sterling, executives said.
Scott, former coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets and New Jersey Nets, is scheduled to meet with Sterling on Tuesday afternoon, the executives said. Scott also met with the Clippers last Tuesday but didn’t talk with Sterling.