Posts Tagged ‘USA Today’

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 ESPN.com: Sources close to the process told ESPN.com 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.



Rose Will Return When He’s ’110 Percent’



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Chicago Bulls fans hoping eagerly anticipating the return of Derrick Rose will apparently have to wait a little longer than expected.

While there is still no concrete timetable for his return, all you have to do is some elementary math to figure out it’s going to be a while before he makes his return from offseason surgery on the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Follow the math in Rose’s own words, to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt:

“I don’t have a set date,”  Rose told USA TODAY Sports on Monday in his first extensive interview since the 2012-13 NBA season began. “I’m not coming back until I’m 110%. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It’s just that I’m not coming back until I’m ready.”

How close is Rose to 110 percent?

“Right now, probably in the high 80s,” he said. “Far away. Far away.”

Whatever the distance is between Rose’s high 80s and the 110 percent he needs to be at in order to get back  on the floor with his Bulls teammates, who have been even better than expected in his absence, it probably won’t be traveled in a matter of days. There was some hope that Rose would be ready after All-Star weekend. But that doesn’t seem practical based on his own assessment of where he is right now.

That said, the “high 80s” is a lot closer to 110 percent than the 50s, 60s or 70s. So there is still reason for optimism in Chicago.

Stan Van Gundy Unchained!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Months removed from his most recent coaching stint in the NBA, Stan Van Gundy‘s words still resonate.

The colorful former coach of both the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat didn’t hold anything back when discussing his life, the NBA, politics, Lance Armstrong, his future and plenty more with Jon Saraceno of USA Today. And because he’s no longer bound by his employer to watch his tongue, you better believe he let it all out.

Van Gundy answered questions the same way he coached his teams, without a hint of reservation and as brutally honest as possible. Best players he’s ever coached? Dwyane Wade followed by Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal (with the qualifier that O’Neal was in the latter stages of his stellar career).

Is politics in his future? He’s never going to run at the top of a ticket for anything. And who is to blame for him not joining his brother Jeff Van Gundy on ABC/ESPN broadcasts in some capacity? NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The most overrated player in the NBA? Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (“He’s not a guy who should be third in the [All-Star] voting.”) followed closely by Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams (“I never thought Deron Williams was overrated but right now people still look at him as one of the top two or three point guards in the league. He hasn’t been that in recent seasons.”) And the most underrated? Nets guard Joe Johnson is Van Gundy’s most “underappreciated.”

If Van Gundy has designs on rejoining the NBA coaching fraternty, he’ll have to be ready to answer a few more questions about some of his answers with at least several teams. He didn’t hold back on a number of topics, and that includes the league’s topic du jour (the train wreck that the Los Angeles Lakers have become):

Q: Biggest surprise this season?

A: Like everybody, probably the way the Lakers have struggled. There are probably pretty easy explanations for it. I’m not totally (surprised), but if you had asked me early in the year, I thought they would win the West.

I never could have predicted they would have screwed up the coaching situation — fire a guy (Mike Brown) five games into the season and be on three coaches 11 games into the year. Or have predicted their injuries. That’s as screwed-up a team as I’ve seen in a long time.

Q: What about team chemistry?

A: I still think that would’ve worked out. Training camp now is a total waste. Bill Walsh in his book (Finding the Winning Edge) said that you have to stay true to your process. You don’t circumvent the process. The Lakers screwed up the process. They haven’t given it a chance to work.

Gregg Popovich says you can’t skip steps. They skipped. (Coach) Mike D’Antoni is coming in on the fly and doesn’t have time to build chemistry and respect in the locker room. I feel badly for Mike because he’s a great guy and a great coach. The situation is impossible.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of guys who are qualified to coach. But the key thing is you all have to be on the same page. I sometimes marvel how organizations sometimes shoot themselves in the foot.

Q: Was Phil Jackson the solution?

A: I think Phil would have run into the same problems. Kobe (Bryant) and Pau (Gasol) are really the only guys left (from his tenure). It all would have been new — he would’ve gone through the same chemistry problems. I mean, I think they should have stuck with (Brown).

There are some firings where, even if you (personally) disagree with them, you see where (management) is coming from. (But) five games in? If you weren’t committed to Mike Brown, you shouldn’t have brought him back. With two new high-profile players, he needed time to put this together.

Q: But was Brown the right guy for the Lakers?

A: I think he was . . . he could have been. They really didn’t have the people to play that way. The hired Mike D’Antoni and they’re (supposedly) going to bring back Showtime. Showtime? Are you kidding me? Those (older players) aren’t going to be Showtime. They weren’t really Showtime when Phil was there, quite honestly. They executed in the half-court and used their size.

D’Antoni is a great coach but they have to have the right pieces. It all has to fit — what management wants, the type of players and the coach. It’s not an easy thing. For all the success they’ve had, I just think this year that they’ve looked pretty foolish as an organization.

The truth according to Stan Van Gundy is a lot of things, but it’s never boring.