NEWS OF THE MORNING
Late mistakes irk Paul in Game 5 loss | Report: LeBron may sit out next season if Sterlings still with Clips | Report: Stockton among Jazz’s list of coaching candidates | Report: Bucks’ sale to be official Thursday
No. 1: Late miscues irk Paul more than controversial call — If you somehow missed Game 5 of the Clippers-Thunder series, do yourself a favor and go watch the recap (we’ll wait). OKC climbed out of a seemingly insurmountable late hole to stun L.A. 105-104 with a controversial call down the stretch serving as this morning’s main NBA talking point. What that call might overshadow, though, are some uncharacteristic miscues from Chris Paul down the stretch that might have enabled OKC to get the win. Our Jeff Caplan was on hand at last night’s game and has more on that:
Game 5 will be remembered for the call, the officials’ curious explanation following the replay review and Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers‘ scorching rant of the entire surreal sequence. It will all be replayed and dissected on a continuous loop.For Chris Paul, the call that didn’t go the Clippers’ way with 11.3 seconds left to another unfathomable finish in this heart-stopping Western Conference semifinal series, isn’t what will eat at him for hours on end; isn’t wasn’t what left him in a near-catatonic state in the postgame interview room.
Despite early foul trouble in a game in which the whistles blew early and often, Paul engineered a spectacular game for 47 minutes before he so unexpectedly came unglued in the final 49 seconds. Two turnovers, about what he’s averaged in each game in these playoffs, and inexplicably making contact with Russell Westbrook‘s shooting arm from behind the arc with 6.4 seconds left played a leading role in the Clippers’ collapse, a seven-point lead, and a series lead, dashed in 49.2 seconds.
With 6.4 seconds showing on the clock, Westbrook, dynamite throughout the game with 38 points and six assists, and the only reason OKC had a chance at all, made all three free throws to put OKC ahead 105-104.
After a timeout to move the ball into the frontcourt, Barnes inbounded to Paul, guarded by Thabo Sefolosha. A screen set Paul free around the right side as he darted toward the lane with designs of feeding a rolling Blake Griffin. But the Thunder’s Jackson dropped off Crawford, got a hand close enough to the ball to avoid a foul while disrupting Paul’s dribble. Paul lost it in the lane and time expired.
Stunned and angry, the Clippers were beside themselves as the buzzer punctuated the finality of an incredible Game 5 that moved the Thunder win from a third West finals appearances in four seasons.
“We lost and it’s on me,” Paul said. “We had a chance to win and the last play, we didn’t get a shot off and that’s just dumb. I’m supposed to be the leader of the team.
“It’s just bad, real bad.”
No. 2: Report: LeBron may boycott season if Sterlings remain in power — Ex-Miami Heat swingman Roger Mason Jr. hasn’t played in an NBA game since Jan. 26 … and hasn’t been on the Heat since Feb. 18 (as he was dealt to the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 20 in a salary-cap saving move). He was waived by Sacramento two days after it acquired him and although he obviously hasn’t been active on the court, he remains a key figure in the NBPA (he’s its vice president) and is close with Heat players such as James Jones and superstar LeBron James. In a recent segment on “Jim Rome” on Showtime, Mason Jr. says he doesn’t think James will play next season if disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling is still in the team’s picture when 2014-15 tips off. Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report has more:
The veteran guard and Miami resident has remained in touch, and in tune, with team and league matters, however. He’s frequently visiting the Heat locker room, when he hasn’t been traveling the country in his role as vice president of the NBA players association, and he’s remained close to several Heat players. That includes James Jones, another member of the players association’s executive council, and LeBron James, who has been one of the most outspoken players during the Donald Sterling scandal.
First, James said there was no place for Donald Sterling in the league.
Then, Saturday, he made it clear that Shelly, Sterling’s wife, doesn’t belong in it, either.
And while James has consistently expressed strong support for the actions new commissioner Adam Silver has already taken, including a lifetime ban of Sterling, the four-time MVP hasn’t been all that specific about what he’ll do if the forced sale of the Clippers runs into snags.
During the open-forum segment on Jim Rome on Showtime—which airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on the pay cable network—Mason, Jr. seemed to speak for him.
Rome asked what would happen if Sterling is still in the Clippers picture when next season starts.
“If it’s not handled by…the start of next season, I don’t see how we’re playing basketball,” Mason said. “I was just in the locker room with LeBron…At the end of the day, you know we have leaders. We have player reps, we’ve got executive committee members…Leaders of the teams, they’re all saying the same thing, ‘If this man is still in place, we ain’t playing.’”
“So, your guy LeBron, you think he would not play if Sterling were still in there when the [next] season started?”
Mason replied that he was “just in the locker room three or four days ago. LeBron and I talked about it. He ain’t playing if Sterling is still an owner.”
What about Shelly Sterling?
“No Sterling deserves to be an owner of that franchise any longer,” Mason said. “And I’ve gone down the line from LeBron to the other guys in the league that I’ve talked to and they all feel the same way. There’s no place for that family in the NBA.”
James wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, as the Heat did not practice after flying back from Brooklyn with a 3-1 advantage in their second-round series.
No. 3: Report: Stockton on Jazz’s long list of coaching candidates — Utah Jazz legend John Stockton saw his former backcourt running mate in Salt Lake City, Jeff Hornacek, thrive as the coach of the Phoenix Suns last season. So could Stockton be bound for the sidelines (in a very familiar place, mind you) before we know it? According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Stockton is among the 20 (yes, 20) candidates the Jazz have on their list to fill the coaching role that came open once Utah decided not to bring Tyrone Corbin back for 2014-15:
The Utah Jazz, as part of a broad coaching search expected to feature some 20 candidates, plan to reach out to Jazz legend John Stockton to gauge whether he has any interest in the position, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that Jazz officials intend to at least pose the question to the Hall of Fame guard about his willingness to move into coaching, while mindful of Stockton’s lack of previous coaching experience and the fact that he has long loathed the sort of spotlight associated with the job.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey declined comment Tuesday night about Stockton or any other prospective candidates when reached by ESPN.com.
Sources say the Jazz are likely to sit down with a handful of potential candidates this week at the league’s annual pre-draft camp in Chicago as part of an introductory round of interviews. In April, Jazz team president Randy Rigby told 1280 AM in Utah that the team’s “exhaustive” search to find a successor to Corbin would eventually feature more than 20 candidates.
Since Corbin’s dismissal in April, San Antonio Spurs assistant and former University of Utah coach Jim Boylen has been widely mentioned as the leading candidate to take over, given his longstanding ties to Lindsey after they worked together in Houston and the fact that no less an authority than Spurs coach Gregg Popovich brought Boylen in as his top assistant this season to replace two top aides who got head-coaching jobs, Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer and Philadelphia’s Brett Brown.
Other candidates who have been mentioned include Chicago Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin, current Jazz assistant Brad Jones, former Missouri coach and veteran NBA assistant Quin Snyder (who worked with Lindsey in San Antonio), and European coaching legend Ettore Messina. ESPN.com reported last month that the Jazz are regarded around the league as one of the few teams that would give bona fide consideration to breaking the NBA’s European barrier and hiring a head coach who wasn’t reared in the United States, with both Lindsey and Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik known to be Messina fans.
In Stockton’s case, asking where he stands on coaching, if nothing else, is a natural due-diligence strategy for the Jazz, who already have employed Karl Malone as a development coach and welcomed Sloan back to the organization last season in an advisory capacity.
The assumption in coaching circles is that Stockton, who was fiercely private as a player and has remained so in retirement, would balk at the media demands on coaches as much as anything about the job.
No. 4: Report: Bucks’ sale to be OK’d on Thursday — All the talk of late in NBA circles regarding the sale of teams centers on what will happen next with the L.A. Clippers, disgraced owner Donald Sterling and a team some think could sell for $1 billion or more. But while that banter is going on, the actual sale of another team — the Milwaukee Bucks — seems to be progressing smoothly. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com has more on the sale, which is expected to take place Thursday:
The $550 million sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to hedge fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry is expected to be finalized by the NBA on Thursday, a source involved in the process told ESPN.com.
In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, there was a push within the league to have an extra thorough vetting of the new owners, sources said. That process, however, is complete and the league’s Board of Governors will approve the transaction that was initially signed last month.
Edens and Lasry are hoping to forge a public-private funding deal to replace the aging Bradley Center similar to the agreement just finalized in Sacramento for the Kings. In that deal, the Kings new $477 million arena is getting $254 million from the team and $223 from government funding. However, there are already opposition groups in Wisconsin lining up against public funding for the Bucks.
In a unique part of the sales contract, the NBA has the right to buy the Bucks back from Edens and Lasry for $575 million if a new arena isn’t finalized by 2017, when the Bucks’ current lease is up. This was a provision installed by Kohl to ensure the new owners would not have the option to move the team if arena funding doesn’t come through.
Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reports that, overall, the sale of the team has gone smoothly:
A source with knowledge of the sale process said Monday the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to New York investors Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens “is moving quickly.”
“It’s possible there will be news later this week,” the source said.
Former senator Herb Kohl is selling the team he has owned since 1985 to Lasry and Edens for $550 million, which includes assumed debt. In addition, Lasry and Edens have committed $100 million toward the cost of a new arena, as has Kohl.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in mid-April that he anticipated it would take about a month for the sale to be formally approved by NBA owners. It appears his timetable was right on target.
Both Lasry and Edens were in Milwaukee May 2 to meet with top business leaders, including Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, and Ted Kellner, a prominent businessman and one of the driving forces behind an MMAC arena committee. The meeting was held to get Edens and Lasry up to speed on the efforts to build a new arena and start the process of attracting local investors in the franchise.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings gives new coach Stan Van Gundy a vote of support on Twitter … Mark Cuban says the L.A. Clippers will sell for ‘far north’ of $1 billion … Speaking of money, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov spent $180 million on his roster this season, which has worked out to roughly $36 million per playoff win … The Warriors, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, are making one last push for Steve Kerr to be their coach … A good look at just how hard it will be for the Lakers to lure Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to Los Angeles … The Knicks are looking to buy a first-round pick in the 2014 Draft
ICYMI(s) of the night: Everyone this morning is talking about the controversial call in last night’s Thunder-Clippers game. That gets some attention around here, but so does the masterful performance in the paint by Marcin Gortat against the Pacers last night …