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NBA Won’t Allow Celtics-Clippers Deal

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics don’t have to worry about finalizing their on-again, off-again trade for Celtics star Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers.

NBA rules won’t allow it, so for the second time in three days, this proposed deal is dead.

Both sides were reportedly informed days ago that the league would not sanction such a deal, per Ken Berger of, and NBA Commissioner David Stern has weighed in as well:

In a radio tour in the hours before Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, commissioner Stern appeared on several programs and put this saga out of its misery. His strongest comments came on ESPN Radio in New York, where Stern said, “The teams are aware that the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t authorize trades involving coaches’ contracts.”

The only incentives other than player contracts that are permitted in NBA trades, Stern said, are draft picks and cash.

“The teams know that,” Stern said. “It has been confirmed to them. … It can’t be gotten around by breaking it up into two transactions.”

Stern said — and a person familiar with the communication between the league and the teams confirmed — that there is no separating the two deals at this point because it is obvious all the pieces are part of the same negotiation.

“If you think those, at this point — having been all over the media for the last week — are separate transactions … I have a bridge that I would very much enjoy selling to you,” Stern said.

Stern’s words make it clear that it’s time to throw dirt on this deal and bury it under fantasy basketball trade scenarios that will never see the light of day.

And the league’s concerns are valid. Since when can coaches, whose salaries and true value cannot be adequately gauged or accounted for under the collective bargaining agreement, become a part of a negotiated trade?

It remains unclear whether Rivers and Celtics boss Danny Ainge have come to an understanding about a mutual parting of the ways. Reports out of Boston had them meeting Wednesday evening and possibly today to discuss the future of the franchise and the rebuilding process that could be on the horizon and what role Rivers would play, if any, in that reboot.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have kept their coaching search going (reportedly narrowing things down to Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins in recent days) through all of the rumors about Rivers joining them to coach not only Garnett but prized free agent Chris Paul.

Where this drama goes next is anyone’s guess. But the Commissioner has made it clear to all involved that the rumored deal, in whatever form it’s in right now, will not pass league muster.

The Celtics-Clippers Saga Continues …

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 Sources close to the process told 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 TODAY Sports 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 The Boston 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.

Report: End In Sight For Kobe?

 Even if he isn’t ready to share any specifics or an exact timeline, Kobe Bryant knows where the finish line is in his Hall of Fame career.

Could it be two years or maybe even three from now?

It’s hard to tell when the Los Angeles Lakers’ star refuses to divulge his master plan about how walking away from the game that framed his life the past two decades, including the four years before he entered the league just weeks after his high school graduation.

Bryant hinted in July that he would be ready to call it quits at 35, when his current contract expires.

Now comes word, via Ken Berger of, that Bryant is indeed sticking with that plan:

Speaking with in a quiet moment after practice, Bryant conceded that, in all likelihood, the finish line and the conclusion of his current contract will be one in the same. Bryant has two years left, and though he was careful to point out, “One can never be too sure,” he made it clear in the next breath it’s almost unfathomable he would play beyond 2013-14, which would be his 18th season.

“It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.”

Even after visiting the fountain of youth in the form of a knee procedure in Germany that allowed him to average nearly 39 minutes per game last season, Bryant senses that the end is near — and not only for his knees, wrist, ankles or other body parts, but also for his incomparably competitive mind. The window, he is ready to acknowledge, is two years. Two more chances to catch Jordan.

“It’s not about health necessarily,” he said. “It’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?’ ”


The World Weighs In On The Lin Decision

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The reaction to the news that the Knicks passed on an opportunity to keep Jeremy Lin in New York has been as one-sided as it has been swift.

Few people (fans, pundits, casual observers, cab drivers, finance experts, etc.) think it was wise for the Knicks to allow Lin to go to the Houston Rockets because they thought three years and $25.1 million (back-loaded in the third year for the Knicks) was a sum too rich for a guy who has started just 25 games.

That blowback from the public might have something to do with the Knicks’ history of being generous with their funds —  for example, Jerome James did collect $30 million from the Knicks for what amounts to a tiny crumb of the excitement Lin produced, on and off the court.

Dive in as the (media) world weighs in on the decision by the Knicks to pass on Lin …


Deron Williams Makes It Official, Signs Five-Year Deal With Nets On IPad

LAS VEGAS — Someone needs to get Deron Williams a crown since he’s the NBA’s new king of technology.

First he broke his own free-agent news by Tweeting that he was picking the Brooklyn Nets over the Dallas Mavericks. His latest high-tech move came just after 9 p.m. local time, when he signed the five-year, $98 million deal with the Nets on the opening night/morning of the free-agent signing period on an iPad, per Ken Berger of

An added twist, according to Berger, is the fourth year opt-out that was included in the contract, which no doubt serves as an escape hatch for Williams if the Joe Johnson sign-and-trade deal is the only other major move the Nets make to revamp their team.

The Dwight Howard trade rumors that were percolating Monday have shifted dramatically and now include teams other than the Nets, the team Howard has requested the Orlando Magic trade him to since December.

TNT’s David Aldridge reported earlier Tuesday night that the Lakers and Rockets have jumped back into the Howard mix as it enters into its eighth month of uncertainty.

Report: D-Will Brooklyn-Bound?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Even with the Draft on the minds of most everyone affiliated with the NBA, there is no shortage of attention being paid to the looming drama of the free-agent summer.

It makes perfect sense, considering there is just as much smoke involved in the draft process as there is in free agency.

The most discussed name on the free-agent scene is Deron Williams, who has made it clear that he has yet to make up his mind about his future and would appreciate those of us prognosticating about it (check his May 30 Tweet) taking a break from the speculation.

His wishes will not be adhered to, not with rumblings from the likes of Ken Berger of, who reports that a handful of league executives are convinced that the All-Star point guard is Brooklyn-bound:

Four rival executives and a fifth person familiar with Williams’ thinking told Tuesday that the Mavericks are becoming increasingly worried that the All-Star point guard will stay with the Nets when the free-agent floodgates open Sunday.

While optimists in the Mavs’ camp are holding out hope that they still have a “50-50” chance of landing Williams, who grew up in Dallas, executives working the phones Tuesday have detected a real concern from the Mavs that Williams will opt to join the Nets in Brooklyn next season. Free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday, and Williams will have a very clear financial decision in front of him.


Trying To Fix The Heat

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Everyone has their theories about what’s wrong with the Heat, but not everyone has offered up reasonable solutions for fixing those problems.

The facts: they are 1-7 on the road against playoff teams since the All-Star break and currently in the midst of their most subpar stretch of play since the first month LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces. The Heat are 6-5 in their last 11 games overall and 3-7 in their last 10 road games.

Sure, the pounding they took Sunday in Boston has as much to do with the 15-5 mark the Celtics have compiled since the break, and Rajon Rondo doing his triple-double-on-the-big-stage routine once again, than it does with anything going on in Miami.

But there are other issues strangling the Heat’s season that require a remedy (and we’re sorry, but no one is going to get the practice team we all know they — and every other team — need to straighten things out).

In the absence of that traditional fix,’s Ken Berger has come up with a theory that has been visited a time or two the past season-and-a-half (mostly to no avail) that could help the Heat overcome some of the obstacles in their way.

And, you guessed it, Berger’s theory has everything to do with putting the ball in the hands of James:


The Knicks Can’t March Straight

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — How much more of this can you take?

We’ve seen just about enough here at the hideout. The Knicks are a mess right now, an absolute mess. And it’s a strain on the basketball-loving eyes to watch this disaster in baggy shorts play out night after night.

Just so we’re clear, the Knicks are 0-for-the-month right now. Talk about March Madness. This is more like March Sadness for Knicks fans who this time a month ago had dreams of upsetting one of the big boys on their Linsanity-fueled ride to the Eastern Conference finals and potentially (in whatever alternate universe you choose) beyond.

The reality is the Knicks, who face the Bulls in Chicago tonight (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) are going to be lucky to make the playoffs the way they are playing right now. They have chemistry issues, to say the least. All those smiles and the energy we saw when they were rolling has vanished.


The Wrong Time To Intervene

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Basketball reasons, huh?

Good luck getting that one past the discerning eyes of millions of basketball fans that know better.

The explanation for the league putting a stop to the three-team, Chris Paul-Lakers deal was disseminated via statement late last night, putting the final nail into what was clearly one of the most bizarre nights the league has seen in years.

From the decision itself to the theories behind why it happened, not to mention the most twisted piece of all, Dan Gilbert‘s terse email detailing his displeasure (and that of many other owners) with the proposed trade was, it all just felt wrong.

It felt wrong as it was going down, wrong during three or four hours of sleep were lucky to get here at the hideout and dead wrong this morning as we try to make sense of the senseless.

The league picked the wrong time to intervene for “basketball reasons.” That should have been done long before Hornets general manager Dell Demps engaged in trade discussions with the dozen or so teams that made serious inquiries about Paul. And even then it would have been the wrong thing to do.

Whoever owns the Hornets will have to deal with the reality that Paul has no intention of playing for the franchise longterm. So rather than making a fool of the franchise, a mockery of the process and a bigger mess than the 149-day lockout did with the fans, someone needed to do the right thing and find a deal that allowed for Paul’s departure without totally destroying the fabric of the franchise.

Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor did it last season when he moved Deron Williams, his franchise’s most valuable asset at that time, before being backed into a similar corner. What Demps was attempting to do was in the very best interest of the franchise and would have been by most any reasonable standard a solid deal for the Hornets (you get three starters, two draft picks and save yourself from the ongoing saga that would have been CP3-watch for the next however many months … you have to take that deal).

Worse yet, the folks suffering the worst today are the players in all three cities that have to show up for training camp, if they show up for training camp, and answer questions about decisions that had nothing to do with them and they had no hand in making.

In Houston, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin have to deal with the fallout. In Los Angeles a wounded Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol will be expected to hit the floor and act as if the night before had never happened. And in New Orleans, Paul has to decide if legal action is his best recourse for being allowed to do what we all know he will do at some point, and that’s leave the Hornets.

Not even “basketball reasons” will keep that from happening at some point.