VIDEO: Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel discusses LeBron James’ opt out
NEWS OF THE MORNING
Are Clips willing to deal Griffin to get James? | Boeheim thinks Anthony would thrive in Chicago | Cavs still torn on who to take No. 1 | Report: Kings, Pistons talk J-Smoove swap | Report: Pelicans looking to move into first round
No. 1: Report: Clips interested in Anthony, James, but won’t trade Griffin … or would they? — LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, both of whom are on the free-agent market after their recent decisions to opt out of their contracts, are both close on a personal level with L.A. Clippers point guard Chris Paul. James and Paul have been close friends for years, while Anthony and Paul are also tight (anyone remember Paul famously toasting a future with Anthony during ‘Melo’s wedding?). The Clips are interested — like every other team in the league — in trying to nab Anthony and/or James this summer, but they won’t move Blake Griffin to make either transaction happen. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more:
The Los Angeles Clippers have strong interest in pursuing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony if they can clear the requisite salary cap space to make a maximum-level offer to the superstars, who have both elected to become free agents starting July 1.
One player they have no interest in moving, however, is forward Blake Griffin. While the Clippers would need to move significant players and money to make a run at either James or Anthony, sources told ESPN that Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers has told Griffin on numerous occasions that he considers him “untouchable” in any trade.
The Clippers have $76 million committed in salaries for next season. That figure will decrease to $71.7 million after Darren Collison, Glen Davis and Danny Granger opt out of their contracts for next season, meaning the Clippers likely would have to trade some combination of prized young center DeAndre Jordan (one year, $11.4 million), Jared Dudley (three years, $12.1 million), Matt Barnes (three years, $10.1 million), Jamal Crawford (three years, $16.3 million) or J.J. Redick (four years, $27.7 million) to facilitate a deal.
The Clippers’ discussions about making a run at James or Anthony have been internal thus far; however, sources said the team has engaged in trade discussions this spring with the Orlando Magic regarding shooting guard Arron Afflalo.
Paul is one of James’ best friends and the two have talked about playing with each other since they were in high school, when they met on the AAU and prep all-star circuits. Paul is godfather to James’ son Bryce and they were in each other’s weddings.
The Clippers have a similar interest in Anthony, who is close with both Paul and Griffin, but it would be too difficult to clear enough salary cap space to pursue both James and Anthony in tandem.
While Shelburne makes it pretty clear the Clips won’t deal Griffin for James or Anthony, that may or may not be the truth in L.A. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times echoes that the Clips are indeed interested in LeBron and that they’d be willing to move Griffin to make a deal for him happen.
Doc Rivers, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations and coach, and his staff are doing their due diligence to make the team better and would consider moving All-Star power forward Blake Griffin along with others in a sign-and-trade deal to get James, according to the officials.
The Clippers could consider sending Griffin and Jared Dudley or Griffin and Matt Barnes to Miami to get James.
The Clippers wouldn’t mind trading DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and either Barnes or Dudley to the Heat for James, but the team knows that would most likely be hard to do.
One official said James really liked Rivers and was good friends with Clippers point guard Chris Paul.
Another official said James’ wife, Savannah, really loved Los Angeles, and that her preference would be for her husband to play for the Clippers rather than the Lakers if he decided to leave.
“The Miami Heat does not think he’s leaving,” one official said. “Miami thinks it’s a ploy by James to make the team better.”
The Clippers also haven’t ruled out making a run at Carmelo Anthony, who opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the officials said.
Another NBA official said that Steve Ballmer, who has agreed to pay $2 billion to buy the Clippers from Donald and Shelly Sterling in a deal that isn’t official yet, would be willing to “pay the luxury tax” if he was able to acquire James or Anthony.
VIDEO: Sekou Smith talks on GameTime about which team might land LeBron James
No. 2: Boeheim thinks ‘Melo would thrive in Chicago — The common notion with Carmelo Anthony‘s future, it seems, is that the best place for him to have both individual success and a shot at a championship run would come with the Chicago Bulls. It seems Anthony’s college coach, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, shares that notion. Boeheim spoke with the New York Post‘s Marc Berman about Anthony in the Windy City and how he would fare under coach Tom Thibodeau:
Jim Boeheim is not advocating Carmelo Anthony leave the Knicks for the Bulls. But if it did happen, the Syracuse coaching legend believes Anthony and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would be a very good match.
Boeheim and Thibodeau were together last summer in Las Vegas during Team USA’s training camp as assistant coaches for Mike Krzyzewski. Even then, Thibodeau picked Boeheim’s brain on Anthony. They remain in touch as Team USA gears up for the World Championships this summer.
Despite being over the salary cap, the Bulls are considered the favorites if Anthony decides to leave the Knicks.
“I’ve talked to Tom about Melo, his name has come up,’’ Boeheim told The Post. “I think Tom is very excited about the possibility of getting Carmelo. He likes him. He likes how he plays. He feels he’s coachable. I think Tom Thibodeau is one of the better coaches in the NBA. Carmelo would be happy playing for him. It would be a good fit — the coach-player relationship.’’
Boeheim has spoken to Anthony about his free agency, but not recently. He believes Anthony’s priority is having the best chance to win a title and hopes that place is New York.
“I talked to some of his guys, spent time with him in the past about it,’’ Boeheim said. “Everybody has to understand with LeBron opting out [Tuesday], these guys are business guys. They have to look for the best situation for them. That’s all they’re doing. There’s so much put on winning championships. Every player has to try to find the best situation for them. Problem is, it’s not that easy to do.’’
Because there’s no clear title contender with cap space, Boeheim feels Anthony has a very tough call to make.
“With the Knicks, how long does it take?’’ Boeheim said. “Melo has three, four prime years left. If something didn’t happen this year, next year for some reason they don’t get a couple of quality guys, now what do you do? It’s tough figuring out what to do. It’s not easy for him.’’
No. 3: Report: Cavs torn about who to take No. 1 overall — A look at the latest Consensus Mock Draft from our own Drew Packham proves what ESPN.com’s Chad Ford and Jeff Goodman are reporting — Cleveland has no idea whom it will take with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday night’s Draft. Add to the mix that the Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers are all trying to move up to No. 1 overall and the Cavs have their hands full right now:
Just two days before the NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers are split on whether to take Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins with the top overall pick, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
“They are torn,” one source close to the situation told ESPN.com. “They met for three hours, and all they talked about was those two guys.”
Added another industry source: “They haven’t come to a decision yet.”
The Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz have all offered their high lottery picks plus a veteran to move up to No. 1.
Of the offers they’ve received, a source says the Cavs aren’t enamored by either the Sixers’ offer (Thaddeus Young and the No. 3 pick) nor the Jazz’s offer (Derrick Favors and the No. 5 pick). However, the Cavs do have some interest in the Magic’s offer of Arron Afflalo, the No. 4 pick and the No. 12 pick.
The Cavs have strong interest in luring James back to Cleveland this summer and know they need to add more pieces to make the team more attractive. Afflalo is a veteran guard who both defends and shoots the three and would be a nice addition to the Cavs’ backcourt.
If the Cavs keep the pick, they also may have to factor in who would be most likely to lure James.
For the past few days, the Cavaliers, according to sources, have been leaning toward selecting Parker.
However, Parker’s workout on Friday in Cleveland was a disappointment, according to multiple sources.
Meanwhile, the athletic 6-8 Wiggins went to Cleveland on Wednesday and shot the ball extremely well — which is considered one of his primary weaknesses. Wiggins also showed off his elite athletic abilities and generally wowed ownership during the workout.
VIDEO: NBA TV’s experts break down Jabari Parker’s NBA outlook
No. 4: Kings, Pistons reportedly talking swap for Josh Smith — Josh Smith’s first season in Detroit was a decided dud. He saw his scoring average, shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage all take major dips as the Pistons struggled to a 29-win season. The Sacramento Kings are looking for a proven defensive stopper on the wings and as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports, have interest in landing Smith:
Stan Van Gundy’s first trade as the new president and coach of the Detroit Pistons might prove to be a whopper.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Pistons have engaged the Sacramento Kings in trade discussions this week that would potentially land Josh Smith in the same Sacramento frontcourt as DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Sources say that Smith being swapped in exchange for the combination of Sacramento’s Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams is one trade construction that the teams have discussed. Although one source insisted Tuesday that no deal is imminent, another source told ESPN.com that the teams have continued to exchange proposals, with Williams potentially being replaced by another Kings player such as Jason Terry or Carl Landry.
Sources say that the Kings, though, have been giving the swap serious consideration, largely because the deal would not cost them any players in their long-term plans and would also add a versatile and athletic defender to a roster that badly needs one, answering coach Mike Malone’s call for more help on that end.
Another potential bonus is Smith’s close relationship with Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, whom Sacramento has reportedly been targeting in trade talks for some time.
VIDEO: Relive Josh Smith’s best plays last season with the Pistons
No. 5: Report: Pelicans trying to land pick in 2014 Draft — During last year’s Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans pulled off a trade that netted them then-Sixers All-Star guard Jrue Holiday for their first-round pick (Nerlens Noel) and a first-round pick in this year’s draft. As it stands today, the Pelicans have no picks come Thursday night, but they are working to rectify that situation. John Reid of The Times Picayune reports that getting into the first round, contrary to internet reports, won’t come at the expense of trading Holiday again:
According to Pelicans coach Monty Williams, they have actively pursued options to get back in the NBA draft after surrendering their first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers that was part of last year’s draft night trade.
”If there’s an opportunity to get in the draft, we’re going to look at it,” Williams said. ”The one thing we don’t want to do is be aggressive and put ourselves in a position to where we’re hamstrung for awhile and can’t make moves for the future.”
According to league sources, the Pelicans are still having conversations with several teams about trying to trade into the first round to select a center or small forward, their two greatest need areas.
One internet report speculated over the weekend the Pelicans have had conversations with the Sacramento Kings to secure their eighth overall pick in the first round in exchange for starting point guard Jrue Holiday.
But a league source confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Holiday has not been included in any trade discussions by the Pelicans to secure a draft pick.
If the Pelicans look to make a deal to get back in the draft, it likely would be with one of the seven teams holding multiple picks in the first round. Those teams are the Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers.
SOME RANDOM NEWS: The Sixers might still be interested in taking Joel Embiid with the No. 3 overall pick … Brian Scalabrine might soon join Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff in Clipperland … The Celtics are reportedly interested in trading up in the Draft … The Knicks may be trying to acquire a first-round pick so they can draft Patric Young … That Ben Franklin logo won’t be on the court in Philly next season, but it will be on t-shirts … Serge Ibaka‘s troublesome calf is on the mend and he should be available to play for Spain in the FIBA World Cup … For the record, Steve Nash says he has no interest in ever being an NBA coach … Expect a pretty patient, smart offseason from the Blazers …