Morning Shootaround — April 27



VIDEO: Highlights from games played April 26

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Pelicans plan to sign Davis to the max | Austin Rivers saves Clippers season | Buss says Lakers will celebrate Kobe next season | Trail Blazers vow to show heart, avoid sweep

No. 1: Report: Pelicans plan to sign Davis to the max — The New Orleans Pelicans have a summer to-do-list that starts and ends with taking care of Anthony Davis. The Pelicans’ immediate future rests on making sure Davis is a part of the organization for years to come and that means signing him to a max deal. Marc Stein of ESPN.com has more:

League sources say that the Pels will be as aggressive as possible on July 1 in presenting Davis with a five-year maximum contract that makes him New Orleans’ designated player.

Given that the 22-year-old was voted to start in February’s All-Star Game and will likely earn All-NBA first-team status when voting results are announced in coming days, Davis would be in line to start his max deal at 30 percent of the league’s salary cap as opposed to a mere 25 percent as long as he earns just one of those same honors next season — or if he is named the 2015-16 MVP.

Based on the league’s most recent cap projections, Davis will thus be presented with a five-year pact that will eventually top $30 million annually and could exceed $140 million in total value in a deal that kicks in beginning in 2016-17 and run through his 28th birthday.

Can he really turn down those sort of riches and that level of security in the name of flexibility?

Would he turn that down when he’s clearly comfortable in New Orleans and, by all accounts, highly engaged as the young leader of his team?

Hard to see Davis resisting such lucrative insulation, though he certainly does have the option of signing a shorter extension to keep his free-agent future more open.

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No. 2: Austin Rivers saves Clippers season — He was supposed to be a bit player in this series, a footnote at best. But make no mistake, with their season on the brink in Game 4 in San Antonio, Austin Rivers stepped up and helped save the Los Angeles Clippers. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports explains how Austin Rivers brought tears to his father’s eyes:

When Doc Rivers walked into the locker room, the scene stopped him. Chris Paul called on the Clippers to congratulate the young guard responsible for saving the season and present him the game ball. Everyone clapped. Everyone let out a long, loud cheer for Austin Rivers.

“For a moment, for a half second maybe, I became a dad in there,” Doc Rivers told Yahoo Sports later on Sunday at the AT&T Center. The tears welled in his eyes, but he quickly wiped them away and stiffened in the concrete corridor.

To trade for his son, Rivers had to make a case on the move’s merits to a dubious basketball community. He’s had to live with the criticism. They’ve had to live with it together. They had Sunday together, too.

Austin Rivers had his finest moment in the NBA on Sunday, scoring 16 points, delivering defense, deflections and a 114-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs to bring this best-of-seven series 2-2 back to Staples Center. He made deft drives to the basket, fearless finishes to stun the Spurs.

For nine years, Doc Rivers coached and lived in Boston. For most of that time, his wife and children stayed in Orlando. Austin completed middle school and high school, spent a year at Duke and moved onto the NBA. Father and son were separated a long time, often coming and going in moments Doc had flown down and stolen an off-night for a high school game or an ACC game on Tobacco Road.

“Listen, we haven’t been together a lot,” Rivers told Yahoo Sports. “In a lot of ways, I am his coach.”

More coach than father, he’s trying to say. It’s an honest admission, and it comes tinged with a touch of sadness. Nevertheless, Austin Rivers has had to find his own way with these Clippers, earn his own respect. This was a beginning on Sunday, nothing more, nothing less.

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No. 3: Buss says Lakers will celebrate Kobe next season — It’s all about Kobe Bryant next season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Even with a monster free agent summer on tap, the Lakers’ focus will be on Kobe. Lakers boss Jeanie Buss insists the 2015-16 season will be a celebration of one of the franchise’s and NBA’s all-time greats and his 20 years with the franchise. Sean Highkin of ProBasketballTalk.com has the details:

It’s been more or less known without anybody outright saying it for a while that next year will be Kobe Bryant‘s final year. His contract is up in 2016, which will put his career at 20 seasons, all with the Lakers, and the last three have ended with injuries.

Lakers president Jeanie Buss seems to know the end of the Kobe era is coming, if you go by her comments on a Sunday morning Bleacher Report radio interview:

Bryant has said that he doesn’t want a Derek Jeter-style farewell tour when he hangs it up, but it seems pretty obvious that it’s coming. And for the impact he’s had on the NBA and the sport worldwide, he deserves to take a victory lap regardless of what the Lakers do next season.

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No. 4: Trail Blazers vow to show heart, avoid sweep — The Portland Trail Blazers insist they will not go away quietly. They will not be swept out of these playoffs without a fight. Their season is on the line tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies and they vow to fight until the very end. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian explains:

A little more than nine weeks ago, the Trail Blazers‘ practice court was brimming with confidence and gusto.

They had just made a splash at the NBA trade deadline, acquiring Arron Afflalo to strengthen their bench and add depth for what figured to be a long and successful playoff run. Pundits universally lauded the move. San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich hailed it as a “great addition.” The Blazers boldly pronounced they were poised to contend for an NBA Championship.

Oh how things have changed.

On Sunday afternoon, that confidence and gusto had been replaced with disappointment and dejection. The Memphis Grizzlies have pummeled the Blazers in their best-of-seven Western Conference playoffs series, using muscle, moxie and better talent to build a 3-0 lead. No team in NBA history has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

And that history hovered over the Blazers like a thick fog Sunday at the practice facility in Tualatin, where they gathered for what could be their final practice of the season. No one said the season was done. Everyone promised to show heart and fight and claw until the final buzzer sounds at the end of Game 4, which is scheduled for 7:30 Monday night at the Moda Center.

But there was no escaping the daunting challenging in front of them. And there was no masking the inevitable gloom that comes with the reality the season is all but over.

“Right now, we’re at the point where we have to just have some heart and have some pride,” Damian Lillard said.

The Blazers spouted off the usual array of clichés, promising to take the series “one game at a time” and “only think about tomorrow’s game.” But history is impossible to ignore. And when the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Boston Celtics on Sunday, they became the 112th team in 112 chances to win a series after building a 3-0 lead.

“You can’t think about it,” LaMarcus Aldridge said. “You just have to go game-by-game. If you try to think about, ‘Oh, we’re down 0-3 and let’s try to win the series,’ I think that’s when you think about the history. But if you just go game-by-game, just focus on getting Game 4, then anything’s possible.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Boston’s summer pursuit of Kevin Love will no doubt be complicated after the “bush league” play from Kelly Olynyk … Knocked down and out, gutsy Jae Crowder embodied toughness of Celtics this season … The Hawks are still a bit salty after their poor shooting effort in a Game 3 loss to the Brooklyn NetsSteals could help the Bucks steal another playoff win if the Chicago Bulls aren’t more careful with the ball … Kevin Love‘s absence in Cleveland with that shoulder dislocation will depend on his personal injury history

 

18 Comments

  1. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Kobe should of signed a 100 mill contract, the Lakers are the richest team in the league, The Lakers signed a 3 billion local TV Deal because of Kobe he sells tickets and it’s hollywood, so to the Lakers he was wroth the contract, and last time i check they had money to sign a max deal to a player or spread the money around last summer, but the Lakers went after one star instead of spreading the money and building a team, so a Superstar player wroth a max deal would of signed to play for the Lakers. So in 2016 the 20 billion dollar league TV deal kicks in, the Lakers will be able to sign 3 players to 100 mill max deals. If your going to hate, hate on the management, and ownership, for making bad moves like Howard and Nash, Dantonio over Phil Jackson to coach, that has them in this position to rebuild, and not resigning Gasol. Kobes contract is not holding them back, so get the facts straight, The Buss’s, and Mitch need to step it up.

  2. Antonio Perez says:

    the never ending

    kobe fans can’t handle the truth

    then you dare insult that person for just expressing his opinion

    and really telling the truth because that’s exactly the way i see it

    you are the ignorant not him

    if kobe really wanted to help the lakers he would have taken less money

    when he signed his last contract so the team would have sign more good players

    and to tell me to respect the black mamba

    please don’t make laugh

    maybe he has earned your respect

    but he didn’t earned mine respect

    all kobe did was copy Jordan moves

    i can’t wait for him to retire so i don’t have to see him anymore

    now as usual call me hater

    i’m not delusional and i don’t live in denial

  3. Jose says:

    Good Thing I Guess: Doc Treated is son as his player during game time on court… ” no special treatment would be seen”

  4. bodjee says:

    Austin did a good job of preventing Khawi from getting the ball.

  5. Doc says:

    Clippers era for the rest of Los Angeles’ existence.

  6. Gary says:

    Rivers had a good game. I think Paul actually saved them. The father son story is a cool part of this, but Austin isn’t the hero.

    • Pacman says:

      Austin deserve to get the “hero” ball , those are unexpected from him, playoff ball is all about game plan because it’s 7 game series, the Spurs didn’t see that coming..

  7. Gary says:

    Rivers had a good game off the bench. Wouldn’t say he saved the Clippers. That credit goes to the team, plus Paul’s performance in the end was what really fueled the win, but I get it that no one likes CP3 since he’s with the Clippers.

    • Andremiller says:

      Blake Griffin’s near 20-20 game was big too, in addition to Jamal’s big shots in the fourth.

  8. harriethehawk says:

    Well, Boston can forget about recruiting Kevin Love. Whether Olynk did that intentionally or not, Love believes it was. And he is talking this very personal.

  9. lepolepo says:

    “I look at this season as a celebration of his 20 years with the Lakers.”

    What a way to celebrate, I wonder if it’s the USA in general that loves hypocrisy or is it just LA?
    I remember Kobe whining to the management & media when Steve Blake had to leave, BECAUSE OF HIS 50 MILL CONTRACT.

    Kobe has a lot of haters and he deserves it.
    Always acting as if he’s an angel and wants the best for the franchise whilst that’s most obviously not the case at all.

    And then say this autrocious season is a way to celebrate his highness, you got players acting like 15 year old kids. Seriously the whole LAL franchise is a just a growing ulcer that should be cut out of the NBA.

    Get real

    • Kindness says:

      You such an ignorant old fart

    • T gas TT ako says:

      i dont like either,, but lets face it hes one of the greats,, he deserves respect coz he earned it already,, for all the things hes done for LA and for NBA itself,, RESPECT the BLACK MAMBA

    • Pacman says:

      This is all about marketing for Lakers as usual, I’ll bet he’s not gonna retire until he past Kareem for all time scoring. He’s aiming for his legacy that’s how selfish he is. But there’s no doubt that he’s one of the greatest to ever played this game

  10. another cavs fan says:

    Great play by Austin Rivers against the Spurs. He stepped up big time.

    He played much better than Tony Parker. And of course so did Chris Paul.

    I’d be surprised if the clippers drop another home game. Game 2 was close, if not for a fluke turnover by Griffin the Clippers would be up 3-1 right now.

    • Pej says:

      Remember Spurs beat Clippers by 27 points in game 3. Both team evenly match it’s hard to predict who will. Let’s hope Clippers could make it past the first round this time. But they are against San Antonio, the reigning champion.

    • Common Sense says:

      I really think the Clippers are the better team, the only question is whether or not they can play hard. They let off the gas in game 2 and lost it. They never put on the gas in game three and got destroyed. They need to realize that at no time is it important to show off, or look cool winning the game. It’s just about getting the win. They have what it takes they just need to give what they have. I really think they could end this in 6 but they can’t relax. Houston isn’t going to be easy, since they too are athletic like the clippers. They need to push through this and then the Josh Smith/Blake Griffin, DJ/Dwight Howard, Harden/CP3 series begins.If the Clippers cruise, the Spurs will take it from them and the next series will be the Texas showdown.

    • Gary says:

      San Antonio’s best weapon against the Clippers right now is experience, but the Spurs are outmatched at every position except Leonards. A 30pt win doesn’t tell me the other team is better unless they do it a few times in a series. Still anyone’s series but it is
      in favor of the Clippers now.