Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Clippers’

Morning Shootaround — May 28


VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played May 27

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Sense of deja vu for Spurs? | Bosh reaffirms he wants to stay with Heat| What’s going on in Minnesota? | Report: Lakers interview ex-coach Rambis

No. 1: It’s like 2012 all over again for Thunder — Just a week ago, San Antonio was on the easy path (it seemed) to a second straight Western Conference championship and trip to The NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City have had other ideas since then, though, as the emotional boost of Serge Ibaka‘s return from injury and the performances of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have knotted the series 2-2. Our Fran Blinebury was on hand last night in OKC and saw a lot of the 2012 Thunder-Spurs West finals series in that game (for those of you who forgot, OKC climbed from an 0-2 hole that year to reach its first Finals):

This is no longer a matter of simply asking Tony Parker to play better. It’s about finding a way for the Spurs to regain their poise and effectiveness against an OKC team that in the last two games has come at them like a rolling bundle of butcher knives.

There have been four games played now and four blowouts. But no matter what the series score sheet says, it doesn’t feel like the Western Conference finals are tied at 2-2.

You could say the Spurs have been put back on their heels, if it didn’t look like they were flat on their backs. It’s looking just like two years ago, when the Thunder spotted San Antonio a 2-0 lead and then roared back for a reverse sweep.

Remember Games 1 and 2 in San Antonio when the Thunder front line of Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha put up just nine combined points? It pushed Thunder coach Scott Brooks to make a lineup change to get Reggie Jackson on the floor with the starters and Jeremy Lamb into the rotation.

Here was Duncan (nine points) Tiago Splitter (3) and Danny Green (3) managing to squeeze out just a few more drops and the solution is hardly to sound the trumpet for more of Cory Joseph, Matt Bonner and the Desperation Cavalry.

With the young arms and legs of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Lamb and Jackson cutting off angles and jumping into passing lanes, the Thunder have smothered San Antonio’s offense.

With their driving, relentless aggressiveness, OKC has also overwhelmed the Spurs’ defense. Of Westbrook’s 40 points and Durant’s 31, a lion’s share came with them going to hoop and making the Spurs look helpless to do anything about it.

Since the 2012 conference finals, the Spurs have an NBA-best road record of 62-33 against 28 other teams. But they’re also 0-9 in OKC since then, too.

“I think we should not think like that,” Parker said. “Each game is different, each series, each year.”

So how come it feels like 2012 and we already know how the election and everything else turned out?

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Morning Shootaround — May 26


VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played May 25

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Six serious bidders for Clips | Report: Lakers to interview Hollins | Stephenson jabs at LeBron (again) | Would Spurs have shot at Love?

No. 1: Report: Six serious bidders for Clippers — Over the weekend, Yao Ming and Grant Hill were among the new names to enter the fray as potential purchasers of the Los Angeles Clippers if/when they become available for sale. If you’ve lost count of exactly how many people are serious bidders for the team, though, the number — according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne — stands at six. Here’s more on who is on that short list:

Shelly Sterling has received inquiries from at least six serious bidders for the Los Angeles Clippers, sources told ESPN on Sunday. Shelly Sterling reached an agreement with her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, to negotiate a sale of the franchise after he was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on April 29.

Sterling’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, is handling the sale with Bob Baradaran, a managing partner at his law firm Greenberg Glusker, and Darren Schield and Doug Watson of Beverly Hills Properties, a real estate company owned by the Sterling family.

Shelly Sterling was scheduled to meet with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Sunday to discuss a possible sale of the team, according to a report on TMZ and later confirmed by ESPN.

While Ballmer was a part of the effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle last year, he said in a Wall Street Journal article last week that he is open to owning a team elsewhere.

“If the opportunity is outside of Seattle, so be it. I will learn about any team that comes up for sale at this point,” Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal. “If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. I don’t work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value-destructive.”

For her part, Shelly Sterling would not consider selling the team to any group that intended to relocate the franchise, a source told ESPN.

Among the issues Shelly Sterling is considering, the source said, are the substantial tax obligations she would incur from the sale.

According to IRS rules, the Sterlings would have to pay a federal long-term capital-gains tax of 20 percent and a California tax of 13.3 percent. The tax would be on the difference between what the team was bought for and what it is ultimately sold for. If the team is sold for $1 billion, the Sterlings would be taxed $328.5 million on the sale. Sterling bought the team from Irv Levin in 1981 for $13.5 million.

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Morning Shootaround — May 25


VIDEO: Daily Zap: May 24

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Wolves, Joerger getting closer to deal | Grizz look toward Van Gundy | No max for Irving? | Report: Hill teams up with SoCal investors

No. 1: Wolves, Joerger getting closer to deal — If the Minnesota Timberwolves have a new coach in the next few days, it will be a continuation of the shake-up in Memphis. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Wolves are moving toward hiring Grizzlies coach (and Minnesota native) Dave Joerger to replace the retired Rick Adelman:

After a meeting with Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor on Saturday, Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger has moved closer to a deal to become the Timberwolves coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Grizzlies and Timberwolves officials have begun discussions on possible compensation for letting Joerger out of his contract, sources said.

Discussions on a contract between Joerger and the Wolves are ongoing too, and a deal could be reached early in the week, sources said.

After a purge of the Memphis management team that promoted Joerger a year ago, owner Robert Pera gave Minnesota permission to discuss its coaching vacancy with Joerger, a Minnesota native. Joerger has history with Timberwolves general manager Flip Saunders, who has been a long-time admirer of Joerger’s climb through the minor leagues into the NBA.

Joerger and Saunders met earlier in the week to discuss the job.

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No. 2: Grizz look toward Jeff Van Gundy — With Joerger’s departure seemingly inevitable, the Grizzlies need a new coach. And Chris Wallace‘s “interim” tag indicates that they need a new head of basketball operations too. Stan Van Gundy just took both roles in Detroit, and maybe his brother could do the same in Memphis. ESPN’s Marc Stein writes that ESPN TV analyst Jeff Van Gundy is on the Grizzlies’ list of candidates:

One of the prime options under consideration by the Memphis Grizzlies in the wake of last week’s management shakeup and the looming departure of Dave Joerger to the Minnesota Timberwolves is making a run at Jeff Van Gundy to be their coach and run their front office, according to NBA coaching sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Grizzlies have serious interest in trying to convince Van Gundy to serve as coach and team president in a job structure modeled after the new dual role brother Stan Van Gundy has secured with the Detroit Pistons.

Jeff Van Gundy’s interest in that sort of undertaking — or the Grizzlies specifically in the wake of all their recent turmoil — is unclear, with the former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach and current ESPN analyst consistent in his reluctance to publicly discuss job openings. But after the ousting of CEO Jason Levien and with Joerger poised to leave, the immediate challenge for Grizzlies owner Robert Pera is convincing prospective candidates that they’ll be walking into a stable situation.

The Grizzlies technically still have a coach, but coaching sources continue to describe Joerger’s move to Minnesota to succeed Rick Adelman with the Timberwolves as an inevitability. ESPN.com reported Thursday that the Wolves had made “significant progress” in their bid to hire Joerger away from Memphis, which sources say continued Saturday after Joerger met face-to-face with Wolves owner Glen Taylor.

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No. 3: No max for Irving?Kyrie Irving is eligible for a contract extension (of four or five years beyond next season) this summer. The former No. 1 pick has been an All-Star in two of his first three seasons. But he’s just the second No. 1 pick in 10 years to not make the playoffs in his first three seasons. He hasn’t been able to lift his teammates up, he’s shown a lack of leadership, and an unwillingness to play defense. Whether he’s worth a max contract or worth building a franchise around is clearly a legitimate question, but not offering him the max would be a risk on the Cavs’ part. Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News writes that they may be willing to take that risk:

The Cavs are making noises that they aren’t going to offer Kyrie Irving “max money” this summer via a long-term extension. They don’t want to deal the 2014 All-Star Game MVP, but it could come to that, especially if the West Orange product and his family continue to tell people that he wants out. Irving hasn’t been a leader in his first three seasons and he’s also gained the unwelcomed reputation as a locker-room problem. Those are two reasons the Cavs don’t see him as a max player.

“He was just handed too much, too soon,” said one source. “You’ve got to make these young guys earn it, and that’s where this team did a bad job with him.”

The Cavs know they can’t get Kevin Love in a deal for the No. 1 overall pick they secured with their third lottery win in the last four seasons. If they keep the pick, they’re expected to take Kansas big man Joel Embiid, unless the stress fracture in his back injury from last season has the chance to become a long-term issue.

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No. 4: Report: Hill teams up with SoCal investors — We reported in this space yesterday that Yao Ming and Grant Hill are among the many names looking to make an offer to buy the L.A. Clippers once they are now longer Donald Sterling‘s. Based on the latest news from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Hill may be a bit more serious about getting in on buying the team based on the fact he’s already got billionaire investors on his side now:

Former NBA All-Star Grant Hill has partnered with billionaire investors and longtime Southern California residents Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh to form an ownership group to bid on the Los Angeles Clippers when they are officially put up for sale, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that Hill’s group is already regarded by league officials as a viable contender for the Clippers in what is forecast to be a highly competitive auction when the franchise finally hits the open market. One industry source told ESPN.com this week that the bidding could start as high as the $1.5 billion range.

It was widely reported Friday that disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling has struck an agreement with wife Shelly to have her negotiate the sale of the franchise, but NBA officials have not yet signed off on that arrangement and continue to proceed with their plans to press for the outright ouster of the Sterlings from the league.

Competition for the Clippers, once they hit the open market, is sure to be fierce, with a number of financial heavyweights having already been linked to purchasing the team Donald Sterling has owned since 1981.

The power trio of Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso, Lakers minority owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, former NBA star Yao Ming and, of course, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and his Guggenheim Partners are among the various groups and individuals expected to compete for the Lakers’ co-tenants at Staples Center.

Some experts have projected the number of bidders for the Clippers to stray into the double digits, assuming that the league is successful in forcing the sale of the team, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver continues to believe.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Tyronn Lue will interview for the Cavs’ coaching job … Yao Ming denied a report that he’s putting together a bid for the ClippersRick Fox thinks Phil Jackson should coach the Knicks, but would do it himself if asked … Stan Van Gundy tells Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to basically mind his own business … The Nets might be looking to bring ex-power forward Buck Williams back in some kind of front-office roleRon Harper defends himself after he’s the subject of a satirical article in The Onion

ICYMI of The Night: Ray Allen dropped four fourth-quarter threes on the Pacers …


VIDEO: All of Allen’s Clutch 3-Pointers

Morning Shootaround — May 24



VIDEO: Get geared up for Game 3 of the Heat-Pacers series


VIDEO: Get geared up for Game 3 of the Thunder-Spurs series

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Yao, Hill want to buy Clips | Scott says he’d be ‘perfect’ fit as Lakers coach | Cuban pulling for Spurs | Gibson set to become Bulls’ starter? | Noel says he could have played sooner

No. 1: Report: Hill, Yao want to buy Clippers — As of today, Donald Sterling remains the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. But as the NBA moves closer and closer to June 3, when fellow owners can officially vote to oust him as owner, the chatter about who might own the team next continues strong. The latest talk, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, is that former NBA All-Star Yao Ming and Grant Hill are both interested in buying the team:

Sources told ESPN.com on Friday that Grant Hill and Yao Ming are working separately to line up investors to lodge bids for the Clippers when the team is ultimately made available.

Donald Sterling has agreed to allow his wife, Shelly, to negotiate a sale of the Clippers, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com on Friday.

Hill is just completing his first year in retirement after a 19-season career that ended with the Clippers after seven All-Star berths. Sources say Hill has made it known within league circles that he is in the process of putting a consortium together.

Sources say that Yao, meanwhile, also plans to pursue the Clippers hard with a group of Chinese investors. The former Houston Rockets All-Star center owns the Shanghai Sharks in his native country and has maintained close ties to the NBA through the league’s various initiatives in Asia.

Yao was seriously interested in purchasing the Bucks, sources say, but dropped out of the bidding when outgoing Milwaukee owner Herb Kohl made keeping the team in that city mandatory for any new owner.

The number of bidders for the Clippers is expected to stray well into double digits, assuming the league can force the sale of the team, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver continues to believe.


VIDEO: GameTime provides an update on the latest news on the Clippers

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Reports: Sterling relinquishes control, wife wants to negotiate sale of Clippers

NBA.com staff

According to several news reports, banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has agreed to let his estranged wife Shelly negotiate a sale of the team. The news was first reported by TMZ.com, which aired the secret recording of Donald Sterling’s racist rant that kick started the whole scandal:

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne followed up:

USA Today’s Sam Amick had his own sources (via reporting by Brent Schrotenboer and Jeff Zillgitt) confirming the report:

According to TMZ, Shelly was ready to contest an involuntary sale of the team. But if the NBA agrees to the deal — and there is no word from the league yet — she reportedly will have at least some say in it.

Our sources say Shelly and her lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, have been secretly meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA lawyers to “resolve the dispute amicably.”  We’re told Shelly realizes the NBA wants the team sold, but she has significantly more leverage and credibility with the league than Donald.  Her end game is simple — she won’t object to the sale, but SHE wants to call the shots.

Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck offers this caveat, though:

TNT’s David Aldridge agrees:

If the league agrees to a deal with Shelly Sterling, the NBA’s stated goal of separating the Sterlings from their stake in the team — voluntarily or otherwise — seemingly would be accelerated and, maybe more importantly, the league would sidestep what most predicted would be a protracted and costly legal battle.

Some other complications may arise, though, according to USA Today’s Amick:

There are contingencies in the agreement, a second person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. Shelly Sterling has agreed to sell the team as long as she retains a minority interest in the Clippers, according to the second person, who also requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

It was not immediately clear whether the NBA will agree to Shelly Sterling’s terms. The NBA, which banned Sterling for life on April 29, has said its move to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership would also terminate any other ownership interest in the team. But that process could be affected by Donald Sterling’s decision to voluntarily transfer his share of the team to his wife.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling  from the NBA for life on April 29, fined him $2.5 million and said the league planned to take control of the team and sell it for his remarks that, among other things, “significantly undermine and call into question the NBA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing partners and licensees, as well as with government and community leaders.”

League owners are scheduled to vote on his ouster next week. It takes a 3/4 vote of the other owners, according to the NBA’s constitution, to strip Sterling of his ownership. The league then would put the team up for sale and the Sterlings would have no input in the process.

Already, speculation regarding the next owner of the Clippers is rampant. Former Lakers great Magic Johnson, Former TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey (who Forbes says is worth $2.9 billion) and many others have been said to be lining up for the right to buy the team, which is expected to go for a record $1 billion or more.

This, from ESPN’s Bill Simmons:

Silver beyond angry Sterling drama is overshadowing playoffs

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media before the NBA Draft lottery

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You don’t have to guess what sort of impact the ongoing Donald Sterling affair is having on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

It’s written all over his face.

And when asked about it during a media gathering before Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery, the commissioner didn’t hide his disdain for the current phase of the process, the league-initiated charges to terminate Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers and the impact the issue has had on the perception and operation of the league at such an important time of the season.

Moments after Silver’s opening statement, when he praised the game at all levels as part of what he called a national and global “basketball renaissance,” the topic turned immediately to Sterling.

When asked what it meant to have the Sterling dominate the conversation each and every time he’s asked a question, the commissioner did not hold back.

“It’s a great question, and hard for me to put in words sometimes,” he said, “especially coming off some of the best playoffs, certainly in my memory. It makes me think of Kevin Durant‘s MVP speech … at one point Kevin Durant says, really addressing his mother, and I’m paraphrasing, he said, ‘Mom, we weren’t supposed to be here. The deck was stacked against us.’ I get choked up a little bit thinking about it. But I think Kevin Durant as our most valuable player embodies what our league is all about. And Mr. Sterling doesn’t.

“What made this moment bigger than basketball for everyone in the league is that it did come from within. Under David Stern and the commissioners that came before him, barriers were broken. And to the people that say it’s a slippery slope or what happens to the next owner or player that does something wrong? People always say that about race issues. It’s no secret we have a league where a majority of our players are African-American and the majority of our owners are not. This is as an egalitarian an institution as there is anywhere, at least that I know of , hiring players, coaches, front office personnel and within the owners ranks.”

Silver summed up his feelings by referencing his feeling the moment he heard the taped audio of Sterling making racist and bigoted comments that created a firestorm.

“It’s beyond anger,” Sterling said. “A certain sadness, a malaise. It’s something deeper than anger. I felt it when I first met with the Clippers. … We”re not a post-racial society. But at least within the boundaries of my authority, I feel a responsibility to protect the people in this league.”

The time frame for the process to strip Sterling of his ownership of the Clippers will move forward according to the dates outlined in the charges initiated by the league Monday:

The NBA initiated a charge Monday seeking to terminate the ownership of Donald Sterling in the Los Angeles Clippers. If the NBA Board of Governors sustains the charge by a 3/4 vote, all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold to new owners.

The NBA Constitution provides Mr. Sterling with the opportunity to respond to the charge by May 27, as well as the right to appear and make a presentation at a special meeting of the Board of Governors. This hearing, which is planned for June 3, will be presided over by NBA Board of Governors Chairman Glen Taylor, the controlling Governor of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The charge asserts that Mr. Sterling engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams. Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and “minorities”; directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities.

Mr. Sterling’s actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders. Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.

All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution and related agreements.

All that said, Silver did indicate that “Mr. Sterling still owns the Clippers” and that the commissioner would be open to a “man-to-man” discussion about how to handle the process going forward in way that would allow Sterling to sell.

But he was resolute in his stance that the league is doing what needs to be done by removing Sterling.

“My confidence level is high,” he said. “We’re doing the right thing and I know the owners are behind me. The timing is laid out in the NBA Constitution. We’re following it to the letter, in terms of numbers of days Mr. Sterling has to respond and the date the hearing [will be] held. It’s an unprecedented proceeding. Will there be bumps in the road? Yes. But I know we’re pursuing the right course.”

Morning Shootaround — May 18




VIDEO: Recapping the Clippers-Thunder series

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Minny to move Love? | Fisher fits NY | Tough summer for Clippers

No. 1: Timberwolves to consider trading Love — While team president Flip Saunders’ first job is hiring a coach to replace replace Rick Adelman and Sam Mitchell has emerged as top candidate, it also seems the Timberwolves might finally be coming round to the reality that they’ll have to trade Kevin Love before he flees as a free agent in 2015. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the scoop:

Beyond the coaching search, the Wolves are under pressure to start considering trade scenarios for Love, who’s anxious to exercise his Early Termination Option (ETO) in the summer of 2015 and leave as a free agent, league sources said.
“For the first time, [Saunders] sounds like looking at deals for [Love] is an option,” one rival executive told Yahoo Sports.
The Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are among many teams determined to make hard runs at trades for Love, league sources said. Boston and Los Angeles plan to make high-lottery picks in the 2014 NBA Draft available in offers for Love, sources said.
No team is likely to trade for Love without an assurance that he’ll commit to a five-year, $100 million maximum contract extension. Despite a belief that Love prefers Los Angeles or New York as a potential destination, he’s open to deals in other markets where he can be part of an immediate contender, sources said.
Nevertheless, Saunders has made finding a coach to help convince Love to reconsider free agency as a top priority, but the bigger issue for the All-Star forward comes with a roster that hasn’t been talented enough to make the Western Conference playoffs.

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No. 2: Brooks says Fisher a perfect fit to coach the Knicks – Though Thunder coach Scott Brooks hopes to have him around for two more rounds of the playoffs, he says veteran point guard Derek Fisher is a perfect fit in New York to help Phil Jackson repair the Knicks. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News spoke to Brooks and on the eve of the Western Conference finals as Fisher, Brooks and OKC prepare to tangle with the Spurs:

“Derek will make a great head coach,” Brooks told the Daily News on Saturday. “He’s smart, he knows the game and works hard. He’s also played for one of the greatest coaches in sports history . . . and I’m not talking about myself, by the way.”
Fisher, of course, played under Jackson in Los Angeles and has some of the same qualities that Jackson’s first choice, Steve Kerr, possesses. If Fisher happens to make the immediate jump from retired player to head coach, it would not be unprecedented. Jason Kidd was a rookie head coach with Brooklyn after retiring last spring following his one season with the Knicks.
Fisher, 39, is a candidate to become the next head coach of the Knicks along with Tyronn Lue, Luke Walton and Kurt Rambis. All have either played for or worked under Jackson. It is unclear if former Knick Mark Jackson, a sentimental choice for many Knick fans, is a candidate. Jackson was rehired by ABC/ESPN on Saturday but can get out of his deal to accept a head coaching job.
A person familiar with Phil Jackson’s thinking insists the new Knicks president will hire someone he’s either coached or worked with. According to Brooks, Fisher has not mentioned the possibility of coaching next season. In fact, Brooks claims that Fisher has not entirely closed the door on playing next season.
“In the role that he has, he’s done a great job for us this year,” Brooks said.
“I think it would make a lot of sense for Derek to coach in New York. But there’s no rush. If they wait a few more weeks they can talk to him. I don’t think Phil would talk to him now anyway because Phil has too much respect for the game and Derek. He knows how hard it is to accomplish what we’re trying to do here. But I hope they do speak at some point.”

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No. 3: Sterling saga could mean a long and difficult offseason for Clippers — It was one thing to try to live with the controversial finish to Game 5. It was another to let Game 6 against the Thunder slip through their hands. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times notes that the real problems for the Clippers could just be starting. The NBA is trying to oust owner Donald Sterling as quickly as possible, but that may not be so easy and the whole affair hangs over the franchise:

When asked whether the Sterling debacle ultimately weighed his team down, Doc Rivers finally answered yes.
“I think a lot of stuff, yeah,” he said. “The playoffs are hard enough without any of this stuff, so….”
Then came Thursday’s fourth quarter, during which the Thunder charged out to a 10-point lead in the first six minutes, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook making their shots while the Clippers never seemed to get into their offense.
Paul committed two turnovers in the quarter, Griffin scored just two baskets in the quarter, and the exhausted team never found its flow.
The Clippers were not only outscored by six in the fourth quarter, but by 14 in the second half.
“I personally thought at halftime, we never got our energy back,” said Rivers. “We tried. That’s all you can do.”

Now it just gets harder. Donald Sterling’s lawyer Maxwell M. Blecher has reportedly sent a letter to the league vowing that Sterling would not pay his $2.5-million fine, a sign of the fight that awaits.
If the NBA thinks everyone understands the removal of Sterling could take months, the NBA is seriously misguided. The league’s players want Sterling gone before the start of next season. The Clippers players will be faced with enormous pressure to refuse to wear a Clippers uniform next season if Sterling is still in charge. Rivers will face the same pressure to remain as coach.
“I think I’m prepared for somewhat of a messy summer, mentally at least,” said Rivers. “I just think it’s going that way.”
On a night the Clippers finally succumbed, it was clear that Donald Sterling has not.
On a night the fight was valiantly lost, the fight was just beginning.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Tyler Ennis of Syracuse says forget out Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, because he’s the top point guard in the NBA draft class of 2014. … Kevin Johnson is taking charge of the NBPA search for a new leader. … The crop of new head coaching candidates has thinned out considerably with all the recent turnover.

Morning Shootaround — May 17

NEWS OF THE MORNING

No Serge means Spurs surge| Lowball start cost Knicks | Wizards look to keep, lure | Watson gets in front of Jazz job

No. 1: No Serge means Spurs surge — Friday was a bad day if you were an NBA fan in general and a horrible day if you were partial to the Oklahoma City Thunder in particular. A night without playoff games – the last two conference semifinal rounds wrapped up Thursday – was bad enough for most folks. But for OKC fans, the news that power forward Serge Ibaka was done for the postseason with a Grade 2 left calf strain was a slo-mo, long-lasting gut punch. On the other hand, San Antonio couldn’t, in good form, revel in Ibaka’s discomfort and the Thunder’s misfortune. But a break’s a break, even when it’s a strain, as Jeff McDonald wrote in the San Antonio Express-News:

Nobody in San Antonio need mention Ibaka’s value as a pressure valve alongside league MVP Kevin Durant and Westbrook in the OKC offense. In Game 4 of the 2012 conference finals against the Spurs, Ibaka went 11 for 11 on his way to 26 points.

“Every time I see Ibaka or hear the name, 11 for 11 goes through my head,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Friday, about four hours before the extent of Ibaka’s injury was made public.

Ibaka has provided needed offense against the Spurs while anchoring the OKC defense. In the past two seasons, his plus/minus ratings against San Antonio has leaped into the black. Here are his basic stats vs. the Spurs over the past four years:

2013-14: 14.0, 11.5, plus-9.8
2012-13: 13.3, 13.3, plus-12.4
2011-12: 10.7, 7.3, minus-10.0
2010-11: 12.3, 11.0, minus-12.4

Defensively is where Ibaka’s loss, however, will have its greatest impact. Matthew Tynan of the 48 Minutes Of Hell blog broke down some of those numbers:

In the 148 minutes the OKC shot-blocking terror has been on the floor against the Spurs this season, San Antonio managed to shoot a putrid 42.3 percent from the floor with a true-shooting mark of 49.3, nearly 8 percent worse than its regular-season average. Near the rim, where Ibaka’s presence is most noticeable, the splits are even more dramatic. The Spurs shot 48 percent at the rim when he was on the floor during the teams’ four games against one another; when he was off, that number ballooned to 61.9 percent.
Even more startling are the 3-point numbers. Ibaka’s ability to singlehandedly protect the paint allows perimeter defenders to stick with shooters, scramble aggressively and close out hard when the Spurs kick the ball out to the arc. San Antonio shot 33 percent from deep when he was on the floor against them this season; when he was off, the NBA’s top 3-point shooting team launched away at better than 54 percent.

And:

Get this: San Antonio managed only 93 points per 100 possessions in Ibaka’s shadow this season, compared to a staggering 120.8 offensive-efficiency rating in the 48 minutes his butt was on the bench*. This news isn’t Durant- or Westbrook-level devastating for OKC, but it’s damn close. He’s been so incredibly important for that team against the Spurs this season, and his absence will greatly swing the forecast of this series.

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No. 2: Lowball start cost Knicks — Apparently, the annual salary was set: $4.4 million. The question was, over how many years? That’s where the New York Knicks allegedly bungled negotiations with Steve Kerr, their No. 1 coaching candidate who wound up agreeing to a deal with the Golden State Warriors instead.
Marc Berman, who covers the Knicks for the New York Post, related the tale of dickering gone awry:

The Post has learned [Phil] Jackson’s initial offer to Kerr was a lowball of three years, $13.2 million. That offer stuck for more than a week before the Warriors got involved Tuesday. Kerr wound up agreeing to terms with Golden State on a five-year, $22 million contract — not the $25 million that was widely reported.
Had the Knicks originally offered Kerr five years, $22 million — $4.4 million a year — he probably would have closed the deal before Golden State could reenter the fray. Jackson only bumped the offer to four years in response to Golden State’s offer.
A source said Kerr wasn’t moving across the country for less money than the Warriors were offering. The Knicks have insisted Jackson, not owner James Dolan, handled the negotiations. Kerr never spoke to Dolan during the process, meeting with general manager Steve Mills and basketball operations director Jamie Mathews.

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L.A.’s roller coaster came to weary end

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Doc Rivers speaks after the Clippers’ Game 6 and series loss

LOS ANGELES — Through all the ugly, unwanted daily questions that started with the name Donald, Clippers coach Doc Rivers maintained a sense of humor to the end.

In the postgame news conference moments after his team succumbed for the last time to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinal series, Rivers was informed of the latest, jaw-clenching news of the day that broke shortly before tip-off: Banned-for-life Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling asserted he will not pay the $2.5 million fine levied last month by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and vowed to fight the league’s intention to force him to sell the team.

Seated at the dais in front of a microphone, Rivers threw up his hands: “I’m not paying my $25,000 fine either,” he deadpanned.

Rivers was fined by the league Thursday morning for his criticism of the referees following the controversial call at the end of Game 5, a game L.A had in its back pocket before a calamity of errors allowed a seven-point lead to evaporate in the final 49 seconds.

The standing room-only crowd of reporters burst into laughter. Rivers, his suit coat long gone and his tie and top button of his white dress shirt loosened, flashed a fatigued smile just as his players in the adjoining room slumped at their lockers in painful silence.

Sterling had not been permitted inside the Staples Center since the first round. But his specter never left the building.

“The locker room was not very good after the game, in a very sad way,” Rivers said. “Just watching our guys, it just felt like all of this stuff that they’ve gone through, they kind of released all of their emotions. That was tough. That was tough for me to see as one of their leaders. I wish I could have done more for them.”

Rivers, in his first year with the Clippers following the rare coaching trade that released him from Boston’s rebuilding job, has been hailed as the perfect man for such a uniquely dispiriting turn of events. Throughout the playoffs, Rivers spoke openly and honestly about how he and his players were feeling and thinking without once losing his cool during the daily drudgery of such an unexpected mission.

His blowup after Game 5 might have been less about a call that didn’t go his team’s way than it was a month’s worth of emotion bubbling to the surface.

“I’ve said this before, and I’m not trying to show humility or anything like that,” Rivers said. “I think any coach in this system would have been the right coach, the right man. I just think you had to be. It’s not like we had a choice in it. None of us was chosen for this. None of us signed on for this. But this is what happened. The way I looked at it, it was my job to do everything that I thought was right.”

Soon after the Sterling audio was released, when emotions were at their rawest, Rivers said he didn’t know if he could coach the team next season if Sterling remained as owner. On Thursday night he made it clear that he will be back.

“I have no plans of going anywhere, as far as I know,” Rivers said.

For point guard Chris Paul, another season ended without advancing beyond the second round. His series of costly miscues in the final 17 seconds of Game 5 ate at him intensely. He wasn’t shooting it well in Game 6, but he was doing everything else as the Clippers maintained a lead until the end of the third quarter when an OKC burst tied it, 72-72.

Paul’s jumper with 7:59 to go tied it at 80-80, but the Thunder bolted on a 10-0 run and never looked back. Paul’s 14-point quarter accounted for more than half the Clippers’ points in the period, but it wasn’t enough.

The seven-time All-Star never pointed to the officiating after Game 5, only shoveling blame on his own shoulders. And when it was all over, he didn’t even lay the team’s exhaustive second-round loss at the feet of the disgraced owner, only at his own shortcomings.

Asked in the postgame news conference for his thoughts if Sterling is still owner by the start of next season, Paul shook his head and decided he was better off not answering at such an emotional moment, only to say that Sterling — who Paul and teammate Blake Griffin addressed only as “him” — is being paid too much attention.

“He’s the spirit of our team. Right now his spirit is broken,” Rivers said of Paul, who averaged 22.0 ppg, 12.0 ast and shot better than 50 percent. “He’s going to have all summer to work and get ready for next year. But he’ll be back. He’ll be ready.”

Most of the 2013-14 Clippers that won a franchise-best 57 games, will be back. The club has nearly $72 million tied into Paul, Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley and Reggie Bullock. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford is under contract next season for $5.45 million dollars, but the full amount is non-guaranteed.

Even with Paul missing six weeks of the season with a separated right shoulder and Redick limited to less than half the season with multiple injuries, the Clippers earned the No. 3 seed in an ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Rivers predicted the coming summer to be “messy” as the Sterling fight enters the next phase. For now, it appears the Clippers’ coach and players are content to allow that drama to play out on the periphery while they focus in on a brighter day and renewed goals come next October.

“We had a really, really good team, a great team,” Paul said. “Before the game, Doc talked about it. I told somebody at halftime, ‘It’s crazy, you play all season long, and the last few games we really started to figure out who our team was and how to play.’

“And it’s crazy that it’s over.”

24-Second Thoughts — May 15

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — That’s right, the Hang Time Headquarters have been shut down for the evening. The brains behind your usual 24-Second Thoughts, my Hang Time Podcast co-host Sekou Smith, asked me yesterday if I would mind filling in for him tonight.

So here I am, parked on the couch, laptop on lap, games on the tube, Twitter tweeting away.

The Wizards and the Clippers had their backs to the wall tonight, and both were at home. Would they use the home court advantage? Could either squad force a Game 7?

24 — Before we get to the games, check out Andrew Wiggins getting ready for the pre-Draft combine in Chicago. I believe these are called hops…

23 — In the phone booth for Game 6? Both Wale and Robert Griffin III

And Wale did his part to try and help the home team later…

22 — The Pacers got off to a great start, particularly Lance Stephenson

21 — For some reason, even playing at home (where, admittedly, they’ve struggled in the postseason, the Wizards just couldn’t seem to find their groove…)

https://twitter.com/MrMichaelLee/status/467106300317274114 (more…)