Posts Tagged ‘Doc Rivers’

Paul likely out again for Game 2

HOUSTON — If Chris Paul has a wish for his 30th birthday, it’s to celebrate it with a return to the court with his teammates for Game 2 against the Rockets tonight. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he’s not expecting that to happen.

“I’m going to see how it feels this morning at walk-through and get with the training staff and we’ll see,” Paul told reporters at Wednesday’s shootaround at Toyota Center about his strained left hamstring. “It’s really tough, really tough, especially with the way that I play. There’s only one way that I know how to play. You don’t want to make it worse than it already is.

“Every day is better. Hopefully, we’ll see if it’s ready by tonight. One thing about me is if I can play, I’m going to play.”

Rivers had been saying that the Clippers’ 117-101 win over Houston in the opener of the series would not be a factor in deciding Paul’s use in Game 2. He maintained that if Paul was ready to play, he would play and be held out for two more days of rest at home in L.A. on Friday.

“I’m not even thinking about Game 3, so we will find that out today and right now I don’t think so,” Rivers said.

“We are going to see. I pretty much doubt it to be honest just from talking to him but he is going to shootaround and we will go from there.”

If he doesn’t play tonight, Paul will be back in street clothes on the Clippers bench, stalking and urging on his teammates in a role that he did not exactly like.

“I told them if I was going to miss tonight, I would have to take some anxiety pills. It’s a lot more nerve-wracking being on the bench than it is being in the game.  This is probably a reason I never coach, not that this level, maybe my AAU kids. This is too stressful.

“I told the guys after last game, ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ Blake (Griffin) said that he needed me. I’ll see how it feels.”

Rivers calls Paul ’50-50′ for Game 2


VIDEO: Doc Rivers says Chris Paul is ’50-50′ for Game 2

HOUSTON — The Clippers know now that they can beat the Rockets without Chris Paul in the lineup. What they don’t know yet is if they’ll have to try to do it again in Game 2.

“Fifty/fifty,” said coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday before L.A. went through a light practice at Toyota Center. “I just don’t really know. He looked good walking today but I really don’t have a clue right now.

“That’s just a difficult decision. It’s a tough call. That injury, I’ve had it. It’s a hard injury for your trainer because he, at some point, is going to give you the thumbs up and he will be sweating that whole night because that’s an injury you just don’t know and it’s an injury you can’t do an x-ray and say that you’re all right.

“You have to trust your player, which is the worst guy to trust in this situation. At some point he is going to play and when he does, we are going to be sweating because we won’t know until he gets out there.”

Paul, of course, will be champing at the bit to get back in the lineup, even though the Clippers pulled away in the fourth quarter Monday night for a 117-101 victory.

Game 2 will be played on his 30th birthday and conventional wisdom says that having gotten a leg up in the series with the road win in the opener, Rivers could buy added time for Paul’s left hamstring to heal and put him back in the lineup Friday night in L.A. for Game 3. But the coach said the 1-0 lead in the series is not a consideration.

“I didn’t ask (how Paul felt) because we didn’t do anything,” Rivers said. “I know he is going to  try to get some shots up or something but we will find out more (Wednesday). I have no idea. I honestly don’t.

“If he can play, he will play. We just want to make sure he is healthy. I really did not ask.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 200): Cinco De Playoffs!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s a holiday.

Pick one.

Cinco De Mayo … Taco Tuesday … the NBA’s conference semifinals on both sides of the playoff conference divide are upon us.

Whatever you do tonight and for the foreseeable future, you’ve got the playoffs to enjoy. And so far, there have been no disappointments.

The newly minted KIA MVP, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, are making sure of it. Same goes for LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and (soon to show up) J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers; Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls; John Wall, Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce of the Washington Wizards; Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul (as soon as he returns from resting that hamstring) of the Los Angeles Clippers; Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks, James Harden, Dwight Howard and … ah, you get the point.

Instead of focusing on who is not coming to our Cinco De Playoffs party, we’re focusing on those who are present on Episode 200 of The Hang Time Podcast. And despite a tremendous marketing campaign to the contrary, there are plenty of guys interested in playing hero this time of year. In fact, it’s a right of passage.

So whoever you root for, wherever you are, pull up a seat and join us for Episode 200 of The Hang Time Podcast: Cinco De Playoffs?

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business, Andrew Merriman.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: Stephen Curry is your new KIA MVP

Bad hamstring sidelines Paul for Game 1


VIDEO: Get a slow-motion view of Chris Paul’s Game 7 winner

HOUSTON — Chris Paul was able to play through a hamstring injury and hit the winning shot in Game 7 against the Spurs, but it kept him out of Game 1 against the Rockets on Monday night.

“I just don’t think he was healthy enough to play,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “Obviously, I guess in a Game 7 he could have played. I’m not even sure with that. I just don’t think the risk is worth it.

“Honestly, I pretty much knew all day. I had to still wait for J.P. (head athletic trainer Jasen Powell) to tell me for sure. But I honestly had made my mind up. They were going to have to change my mind to tell me he was healthy.

“I’ve had the injury. I just don’t like playing with it. It’s not worth it, because if you re-injure that, then you’re done. To me it wasn’t worth the risk.

“We’ll see. It could be two games. It could be one. We don’t know that. I haven’t thought that far ahead, to be honest. But pretty much right away I had made up my mind that he wasn’t going to play tonight.”

Paul had to leave the game Saturday and go to the locker room for treatment. But he returned to the floor and wound up playing 37 minutes, scored 27 points, dealt six assists and capped it all off by hitting a running bank shot with one second left to give L.A. a 111-109 win.

This was the first time in Paul’s 10-year NBA career that he played in all 82 regular season games.

Paul’s spot will be filled by a combination of Austin Rivers, Lester Hudson and Jamal Crawford.

During the regular season, the Clippers outscored their opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor, and were outscored by 7.6 with him off the floor. That differential of 19.8 was, by far, the largest for players who played at least 1,000 minutes. Next on the list was Stephen Curry (17.1).

When asked if Paul would return at some point in the series, River replied: “Oh yeah, for sure.”

Rivers said that Paul had spoken to him earlier in the day about playing in the opener against the Rockets.

“He did, but it didn’t matter,” Rivers said. “It just didn’t matter. There’s certain things, a knee or something, you say, ‘OK, we’ll see what you’ve got.’ This is one of those, I don’t want to see what you have. Because if you’re wrong, then you’re wrong for the series. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Rivers said he understood the severity of the injury as soon as he saw Paul up and grab at his left hamstring on Saturday.

“I was playing him on adrenaline right when he did it,” Rivers said. “It was funny, I actually turned to Woody (assistant coach Mike Woodson) and said, ‘Oh, he’s not playing Game 1.’ That was during the game. That was the way I felt at the time.”

Only the fact that it was Game 7 kept Paul on the floor against the Spurs.

“No doubt. No doubt. No doubt,” Rivers said. “At that point I was thinking he’s already injured, so let’s see what we can get out of him. He’s not a horse, so he can come back.”

CP3 insurance? How about ‘Bob Griffin’

With point guard Chris Paul and his sore left hamstring likely to be a pending decision right up until the opening tip for tonight’s Game 1 against the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers are in the market for insurance in their offense.

While it might be tempting to suit up the bespectacled “Cliff Paul,” alter-ego in State Farm TV commercials, Clippers coach Doc Rivers could turn to a different source for his playmaking needs.

Let’s call him Blake Griffin’s less-well-known brother “Bob Griffin,” the point forward.

After ringing up his second triple-double of the series in the close-out Game 7, the power forward Griffin averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds, but also handed out 7.4 assists against the Spurs.

“That’s unheard of from the power forward spot,” Rivers told reporters upon the team’s arrival in Houston. “It’s a crazy number. He’s that good.

“Blake’s a facilitator. If Chris is unable to go, Blake’s our best passer. It’s just like when Chris was out last year. We had (Darren Collison), but Blake was the guy who was facilitating our offense.”

Though the Clippers can function by relying more on Griffin’s passing, the hope remains they won’t need to.

Paul is officially listed as “questionable” on the Clippers’ injury report for Game 1 tonight at the Toyota Center.

Paul strained his left hamstring in the first quarter of Saturday’s game leaving the court briefly to go to the trainer’s room before coming back to lead the Clippers past the Spurs.

“We did a MRI and that came out pretty well, but I don’t know,” Rivers said Sunday. “We’ll wait until (Monday) and find out.

“… I’m going to be careful. If there’s any risk, he won’t play. I can tell you that right now. I just don’t know yet.”

For the first time in his career, Paul played in all 82 games this season, averaging 22.7 points, 7.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals in the Clippers’ hotly-contested first-round win over the defending champion Spurs, where L.A. had trailed 3-2 in the series before winning the final two games to advance.

If Paul is unable to play, the Clippers point guard duties will be shared by Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford.

But don’t count out insurance coverage by Griffin.

“We’re just going to trust the system like we did (in Game 7 against the Spurs),” Griffin said. “When he was in the back, we said, ‘Come on, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we’ve got to strap up and go.’ We’re going to trust our system just like any other game. Nobody is going to do it alone, but we need everybody.”

Morning Shootaround — May 2


VIDEO: All the highlights from Game 6 of Hawks-Nets

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Hawks finally move on | Spurs, Clippers face off in Game 7 | Billy Donovan meets Oklahoma City
| Report: Kings not interested in trading Cousins

No. 1:Hawks finally move on — Most observes figured the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks wouldn’t have much trouble in the first round of the playoffs against the eight-seed Brooklyn Nets. Instead, it took the Hawks six games and one overtime session to eliminate the Nets, which finally happened last night as the Hawks won Game 6 in Brooklyn, 111-87. As NBA.com’s John Schuhmann writes, it may have taken them a while, but the Hawks finally looked like a No. 1 seed again …

With the Eastern Conference well in hand once they beat the Cavs for a third time in early March, Atlanta lost some of its momentum over the final month of the season. And they didn’t look like a 60-win team for much of this series.

But Game 6 was clearly their best. And the short turnaround before the conference semifinals might allow them to take some momentum into Game 1 against Washington.

“We lost Game 4, and you never want that to happen,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But I think we were moving in the right direction, 4, 5, 6. At the end of the day, you got to get back to work and get prepared for Game 1. If you assume anything, you’re in trouble. But I think this was great for us, to play playoff basketball, to compete like you have to in the playoffs.”

“We didn’t play that well the first three games,” Kyle Korver added. “I didn’t think we had our edge. I think coming here and losing two kind of woke us up. I think we can still play better, but we come out of this series playing better than we did going into the playoffs, for sure.”

***

No. 2:Spurs, Clippers face off in Game 7 — Today is being billed as one of sports’s biggest days: The Kentucky Derby, Mayweather/Pacquiao, the NFL Draft, Yankees/Red Sox. But the day’s biggest event may just be Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs. The Clips and Spurs were arguably the two hottest teams in the NBA over the last few weeks of the NBA season, and their improbable first matchup has not disappointed. And as Sekou Smith writes, looking at the numbers in the context of history just adds interest to tonight’s game…

Doc Rivers has a 5-5 career record in Game 7s, 5-2 at home. Gregg Popovich is 3-2 in his career, 1-1 on the road.

Doc and the Clippers have the most compelling numbers on their side is the 79.8 percent winning percentage (95-24) home teams own in Game 7s. But on the flip side, there has been a road win in a Game 7 in each of the past three postseasons and all in the first round (Brooklyn over Toronto in 2014, Chicago over Brooklyn in 2013 and the Clippers over Memphis in 2012).

Does it mean anything?

Not really. At least not in a tangible way that either the Clippers or Spurs will be able to use after opening tip.

Both Pop and Doc won Game 7s on their home floors last season, the Spurs beat back Dallas in the first round last season and the Clippers did it a day earlier against Golden State. So they have fresh memories of what needs to be done in this situation, as do their teams.

For all of Pop’s playoff experience, no active NBA coach knows the rigors of Game 7s the way Doc does. The Boston Celtics played in seven of them during his time running the show there, his veteran crew tested in each and every way imaginable during their glory days together.

All that said, the Spurs’ lone Game 7 win on the road in four tries, came in 2008 against the New Orleans Hornets and their All-Star point guard … one Chris Paul.

If you believe in any of the minutiae, that any of these numbers have a story tell, that should be more than enough to chew on between now and game time.

***

No. 3:Billy Donovan meets Oklahoma City — Eight years after a one-day stint as the head coach of the Orlando Magic, Billy Donovan is back in the NBA as the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, replacing the recently removed Scott Brooks. And in his introductory press conference yesterday in Oklahoma City, Donovan showed that while he may not have much NBA experience, he’s willing to put in the work to succeed, writes Darnell Mayberry

But on several occasions in his near 40-minute introduction to the local media Friday afternoon, Donovan tackled each and every question posed to him about the challenge he faces in jumping from college to the pros. And with each answer, Donovan was confident and candid, thoughtful and thorough.

When it was all over, Donovan had said plenty to make you believe he has what it takes to be an exception to rule and find success as a college-to-pro coach.

“One of the things with me is I’m going to work extremely hard,” Donovan said. “I’m curious to learn and grow. I think there’s unbelievable people that are going to be around me. I’m excited about learning and growing. That’s really, really important to me. And I hope I can put people inside the organization, and even the players, in a position where they can learn and grow as well.”

Donovan acknowledged that there will be an adjustment period. He was so frank about that reality that he referred to his transition as “starting from scratch.” But he maintained a presence about him that exuded self-assurance and left a room full of reporters, family, friends, players, assistant coaches and Thunder chairman Clay Bennett with little doubt that he could do the job.

“I feel very strongly about the game of basketball and what I’ll be able to learn and how quickly I’ll be able to learn it,” Donovan said. “And there’s no question it’s going to be a transition period. I don’t anticipate that. But that’s something that I think that I’ll go through and work through and I’ll have great people around me to help me if I come to any road blocks or things like that that are a struggle. And I feel very confident with the people inside the organization.”

***

No. 4:Report: Kings not interested in trading Cousins — The idea that an NBA team would be interested in trading for Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Cousins is that rarest of combinations in today’s NBA: A sturdy 7-footer who seems to relish playing under the rim, collecting buckets and rebounds. So rumors yesterday of interest in Cousins from the Boston Celtics made sense, particularly for a team like Boston with a treasure trove of draft picks and in need of a superstar to go along with their role players. But as Bill Herenda writes for CSNBayArea.com, the Kings have their own plans for Cousins …

The Kings want to make a playoff run next season with DeMarcus Cousins as the centerpiece of the franchise, league sources told CSNCalifornia.com.

The Celtics reportedly have significant interest in Cousins and are expected to utilize their bevy of draft picks to secure the center from Sacramento, according to an ESPN report.

Cousins, a first time All-Star this season, averaged career-highs of 24.1 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game, while finishing tied for third in the NBA with 47 double-doubles despite missing 23 games due to illness and injury.

The NBA can be a fickle, mercurial place and nowhere was that more apparent than in Sacramento last season.

The Kings fired Michael Malone, who had bonded with Cousins, after an 11-13 start to the season. Assistant coach Ty Corbin took over, but Sacramento stumbled to an 18-34 record before a long, public courtship with George Karl was finally consummated at the All-Star break.

With contradicting media reports that Cousins was against the hiring of George Karl, the 24-year-old issued a statement in February stating that he was not against playing for the sixth-winningest coach in the history of the NBA.

Karl lead the Kings to an 11-19 record over the final 30 games of the season.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Do the Spurs and Mavericks have a legit chance of signing LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency? According to Marc Stein, they feel like they do … Things in Brooklyn haven’t exactly gone to plan for the Nets … Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer finished third in executive of the year voting, even though he had basically nothing to do with building the Hawks roster. According to Ken Berger, GMs voted for Bud as a reflection of their admiration of the work done by Danny FerryKevin Love could get a nice raise by opting out of his contract this summer, even if he intends to stay in Cleveland …

Pop’s, Doc’s Game 7 Numbers Tell Story


VIDEO: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich poked his team after their Game 6 loss at home to the Clippers

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Ask most observers who they would like to have pushing buttons in a winner-take-all, NBA playoff Game 7 and they’d tell you Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers or both.

The most accomplished coach of his era (Pop) against the best motivator of his era (Doc), they’ve got the championships and big game experience oozing out of their pores with Saturday’s Game 7 of their first round series at Staples Center looming on an overstuffed sports weekend, the likes of which we might not see again anytime soon.

The NFL Draft, the Kentucky Derby, Mayweather-Pacquiao and, of course, that almighty Game 7 between the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs and wanna-be champs Los Angeles Clippers. It’s all there for your consumption this weekend.

But nothing beats the pressure-packed chaos of a Game 7 and to get it with two of the marquee coaches in the game, with Hollywood as the backdrop … it doesn’t get much better.

And when you toss in the metrics, things get even more interesting.

Doc has a 5-5 career record in Game 7s, 5-2 at home. Pop is 3-2 in his career, 1-1 on the road.

Doc and the Clippers have the most compelling numbers on their side is the 79.8 percent winning percentage (95-24) home teams own in Game 7s. But on the flip side, there has been a road win in a Game 7 in each of the past three postseasons and all in the first round (Brooklyn over Toronto in 2014, Chicago over Brooklyn in 2013 and the Clippers over Memphis in 2012).

Does it mean anything?

Not really. At least not in a tangible way that either the Clippers or Spurs will be able to use after opening tip.

Both Pop and Doc won Game 7s on their home floors last season, the Spurs beat back Dallas in the first round last season and the Clippers did it a day earlier against Golden State. So they have fresh memories of what needs to be done in this situation, as do their teams.

For all of Pop’s playoff experience, no active NBA coach knows the rigors of Game 7s the way Doc does. The Boston Celtics played in seven of them during his time running the show there, his veteran crew tested in each and every way imaginable during their glory days together.

All that said, the Spurs’ lone Game 7 win on the road in four tries, came in 2008 against the New Orleans Hornets and their All-Star point guard … one Chris Paul.

If you believe in any of the minutiae, that any of these numbers have a story tell, that should be more than enough to chew on between now and game time.

As much as we’d like to make this about the coaches, the bottom line is the players, on both sides, will have the final say.

Does Tim Duncan have one more superstar effort in him? Can CP3 finally slay the dragon and drive his team over the proverbial hump? Can Blake Griffin keep it going? Or will Kawhi Leonard win the battle of the young big men? Can J.J. Redick play hero? Will Tony Parker shake off whatever ails him and deliver like the former Finals MVP he is? Will DeAndre Jordan makes his free throws? And who serves as the Game 7 wild card among Jamal Crawford, Manu Ginobili, Austin Rivers, Patty Mills, Matt Barnes and Boris Diaw?

Someone will have to decide who moves on to the conference semifinals and that date with the Houston Rockets.

And instead of it being Pop or Doc, it will have to be someone else … then again, perhaps it’s best to go with the guys with the Game 7 track records.


VIDEO: Clippers coach Doc Rivers talks about his team’s mettle down the stretch in their Game 6 win over the Spurs

Fined Clippers now fine with refs


VIDEO: Doc Rivers speaks ahead of Game 6

SAN ANTONIO — The Clippers didn’t care much for the officiating in Game 5. It cost coach Doc Rivers $25,000 to make that clear.

But as the minutes to a do-or-die Game 6 tick down, nobody in the L.A. locker room is still focused on the whistles. Even when the official report from the league noted several errors.

“I’m not going there, but I can say I was right a lot,” Rivers said at the pregame shootaround at the AT&T Center. “Let me just put it that way.”

Did he get any clarification on the technical foul that was called on Chris Paul?

“No,” Rivers said, grinning. “The one thing I keep saying, we have the hardest game to officiate. We all know that.

“It’s still a human game, no matter what. There’s gonna be mistakes from us and them. You just move on.”

J.J. Redick said he never makes a habit of reading the postgame officiating report from the league.

“Any frustration that I ever have with a call or calls that happen during a game, it’s in the moment and I move on,” he said. “I didn’t look at any of the calls. I didn’t even think about it yesterday. My frustration was with how much we put into the game, we weren’t able to win.

“You always feel anger. Even in the regular season, you always feel anger after a loss. That’s the beautiful thing about the NBA is that there always seems to be another game. For us, there is another game, but we have to win to get to that game.’’

Paul simply shrugged.

“I said after that game that it’s something that night and yesterday it’s cool…Now just play again.”

Morning shootaround — April 29


VIDEO: Highlights from games played April 28

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Clippers falter down stretch in Game 5| Report: Thunder, Donovan open talks | Harden focused on bigger goals | Report: Lakers willing to add Rondo for low price | Lillard’s speech inspires Blazers

No. 1: Clippers freeze up down stretch of Game 5 — Save for a Game 3 blowout in San Antonio, the Spurs-Clippers series has lived up to its billing as the best one of the first round. Each game has been a nail-biter and last night’s Game 5 was no different. Los Angeles had a solid shot at claiming a 3-2 lead, but some late blunders and bad plays late in the game puts them on the flip side of that status, writes Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

Yeah, it happened again. With the pressure on the precocious Clippers, they wilted again. Needing one big play, they again responded with a botched play, and now they are down to their last chance to make it all better.

In a pivotal playoff game against the NBA’s championship measuring stick known as the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, the Clippers again crumbled under the weight of every critic’s charge and skeptic’s claim, falling apart in the fourth quarter of a 111-107 loss in Game 5 of the first round, falling behind three games to two.

The play that everyone will be talking about will be DeAndre Jordan‘s goal-tending on a potential game-winning runner by Blake Griffin with 4.9 seconds remaining, especially since it was clearly goaltending and Griffin’s shot appeared destined to roll through the rim without any help.

“At this point, it ain’t about the stats,” said Chris Paul, who vainly tried to do it all during the quarter with nine points. “We have to execute better and play better down the stretch.”

It didn’t help that by that fourth quarter, a Clippers bench that helped them win Game 4 had been ineffective or ignored.

While five Spurs reserves played at least 11 minutes, only two Clippers reserves played that much, and Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers combined to make five of 19 shots. Overall, the Spurs bench outscored the Clippers bench, 48-17.

For the second time in five games in this series, the Clippers were punching bags in the final rounds, although this has happened to Spurs opponents before. In fact, this traditionally most pivotal of games has long been the Spurs’ most favorite game. The Spurs are now 24-8 in Game 5s since their first championship in 1999. They have won six straight Game 5s over last two seasons and were 15-1 in Game 5s during their five championship years.

“They’re not going to panic, they’re not going to go away, you’re not going to knock them, you’re going to have to win by a decision,” Clippers Coach Doc Rives said of the Spurs. “Our guys have to embrace that.”

 


VIDEO: The Clippers discuss their Game 5 defeat

*** (more…)

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.

***

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