Community Shootaround: Clippers’ Trio

The Clippers will enter the offseason earlier than expected after losing the final game in their series against the Blazers on Friday night. The team lost Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injury during Game 4 of the series and Los Angeles was unable to win another game without two of its stars on the floor.

The arrival of the offseason carries questions for the Clippers. The front office has to figure out if Paul, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan can be the foundation of a championship team and they were hoping to get another postseason to gather more data. Instead, the franchise got three games of postseason play, two of which it won, to evaluate its core and that brings us to tonight’s question. Should the Clippers break up the Paul-Griffin-Jordan trio?

Let us know what you would do if you were sitting in Doc Rivers‘ chair. Which player(s) should be moved? Would you give this core another year and if so, what minor changes would you make? Take to the comments section to share your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say!

Latest on Kings’ Coaching Search

The Kings are planning to interview Patrick Ewing for their head coaching position, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Ewing’s potential ability to command the respect of DeMarcus Cousins makes him an “intriguing candidate” for the Kings, sources tell Wojnarowski.

VP of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac has expressed a desire to have three finalists and he will bring those candidates in front of ownership for a final round of interviews, Wojnarowski adds. The Kings are not at that point yet, as they are still conducting initial interviews.

Owner Vivek Ranadive is most intrigued with Kevin McHale for the position, sources tell Wojnarowski. Though, McHale isn’t eager to take the job.

Wizards Notes: Grunfeld, Morris, Wall

Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis is firmly behind team president Ernie Grunfeld, as well as the rest of the front office, and he explained his rationale for not making broader changes, writes Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post. “Because we were executing to the plan,” Leonsis said. “If we had varied from the plan and the plan didn’t work, then I think it would’ve been in my realm of responsibility to take a look. But we were executing a plan that we agreed to when I bought the team five years ago.”

Here’s more from Washington:

  • During exit interviews, many of the players on the Wizards indicated that they liked and admired Markieff Morris and they wanted to play alongside him on the court, according to Leonsis, as J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic passes along.
  • Leonsis also compared the Wizards‘ deal to acquire the power forward to the 2013 deal for Marcin Gortat, as Michael writes in the same piece. “Was [the Morris trade] on strategy or off strategy? Who did we get for Gortat. Would I trade Gortat for [Tyler] Ennis? The answer is yes,” Leonsis said. The Suns received the No. 18 selection of the 2014 draft as a result of the Gortat trade and they selected Ennis. Washington owes its first-rounder, currently slotted as the No.13 pick, to Phoenix as part of the Morris trade.
  • Newly hired coach Scott Brooks believes John Wall has a chance to grow his game even further and bring the Wizards to new heights, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes. “He has another level, maybe two or three levels. Not only from a basketball standpoint, [but] from a leadership standpoint.” Brooks said. “He has the ability to be one of the best players in the game,”

Nets Hire Jacque Vaughn To Be Top Assistant

The Nets have hired Jacque Vaughn to be the team’s top assistant coach on Kenny Atkinson’s staff, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Vaughn played for the Nets during the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons.

The Magic hired Vaughn to coach their team in 2012 and he compiled a 43-121 record over three-plus seasons. He was fired in February of 2015. Prior to joining the Magic, Vaughn was an assistant coach for Spurs.

Wojnarowski points out that GM Sean Mark has worked closely with Vaughn during their time together in San Antonio. Vaughn spent the 2015/16 season with the Spurs as a pro personnel director.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Warriors, Belinelli, Metta

The Warriors plan to hire the replacement for assistant coach Luke Walton from outside the organization, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein notes that former Cavaliers coach David Blatt came close to joining Steve Kerr on Golden State’s bench in 2014, but adds that Blatt may not be willing to become an assistant now as he waits for his next head coaching job (Twitter link). The Warriors say they won’t look at candidates to take Walton’s place until they are finished with the playoffs (Twitter link).

There’s more news out of the Pacific Division:

  • Walton and Alvin Gentry, who left after last season to coach the Pelicans, could be the first of many Warriors assistants to land head coaching jobs, speculates Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com. Jarron Collins, another highly regarded Golden State assistant, could be next, and Strauss believes Chris DeMarco, Nick U’Ren and Theo Robertson may eventually follow. Kerr is a fan of all three, and their responsibilities in the organization are growing.
  • Kings swingman Marco Belinelli blasts the organization in an interview with Sky Sport Italy (h/t to Sportando). He believes the tension between former coach George Karl and star center DeMarcus Cousins created dissension on the team from the start of the season. Belinelli says executive/GM Vlade Divac tried to broker peace between Karl and Cousins, but without much success. Belinelli adds that he saw “very bad stuff” in the Kings’ locker room and contrasts it to the atmosphere he was accustomed to in San Antonio. Belinelli has two years left on his contract with the Kings.
  • His improbable comeback with the Lakers this season has helped Metta World Peace find balance in his life, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The 36-year-old, who entered the NBA in 1999 as Ron Artest, was out of the league for a full season before earning a roster spot with L.A. last fall. “I always tell people there was only one black hole that was able to be a star again,” World Peace said of changing his reputation. “That was Ron Artest. There should be no turning back. Once you’re a black hole, you’re a black hole. But I was able to resurface and do what I had to do. And that’s something I’m proud of.”

Latest on Luke Walton, Lakers

The Lakers will give new head coach Luke Walton a five-year contract with four seasons guaranteed, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The deal will be valued at $5MM to $6MM annually with incentives. Walton, who was hired Friday night to take over for Byron Scott, met the media today to answer questions about his plans in L.A.:

  • Despite playing under Knicks president Phil Jackson, Walton doesn’t plan to use the triangle, tweets Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. “I don’t think the triangle’s the most appropriate offense for the players that they have down there,” Walton said, adding that he plans a style similar to Golden State’s.
  • Walton met with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and co-owner and executive vice president Jim Buss on Thursday in Oakland to talk about the job (Twitter link). “I left the meeting thinking it went well,” Walton said. “I obviously didn’t know it would get done that quickly.” (Twitter link from Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times).
  • L.A. executives provided a detailed vision of the organization during that meeting, including several free agents they want to pursue this summer (Twitter link). “I think they have some young, talented players,” Walton said. “Obviously you need to mix in some vets. I’m excited about the pieces they have.” (Twitter link)
  • Walton, who will remain an assistant with the Warriors until their playoff run is complete, said it was hard to break the news to Golden State head coach Steve Kerr“I was a little bit nervous about making the call [to Kerr] because we have such a good thing going here,” Walton said (Twitter link). Several Warriors players said they will miss Walton when he leaves the team. “He’s obviously a guy that we want around but … he deserved it and it’s a dream job for him,” said Draymond Green (Twitter link). “It’s been very important for me to have someone to vent to … that’s how our relationship started.” (Twitter link).

Walton has dreamed of running the Lakers since Jackson used to bring him into coaching meetings during his time as a player with the team, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. She believes it’s the only job that would have made him leave Golden State, although he planned to interview with other teams to go through the experience. Shelburne calls Walton the “biggest free agent the Lakers have landed in years,” as he became the league’s most sought-after assistant when he led the Warriors to a 39-4 start during Kerr’s absence with health issues.

Walton’s first move should be to add some experienced assistants, opines J.A. Adande in an ESPN 5-on-5 chat. With Walton never officially being a head coach before, Adande said he could benefit from a couple of veterans on the bench in the same way that Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams helped Kerr last season.

Celtics Notes: Turner, Stevens, Ainge, Draft Picks

Evan Turner may have to be patient if he wants to re-sign with the Celtics in free agency, but he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN that coach Brad Stevens would like to keep him in Boston. “Coach definitely said [he wants me back],” said Turner. “He said he’ll be pushing for me and everything like that. And that’s pretty much it. But there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on right now. I understand it. And I understand what’s going to occur, with the draft picks and the young guys trying to develop and trying to get a superstar, stuff like that. I definitely comprehend it.” The Celtics may like Turner, but they figure to have other priorities this summer as they try to improve a team that went 48-34 and was bounced by the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. Turner played a big part in Boston’s success, averaging 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 81 games. He said “money’s cool” in free agency, but it’s more important to find playing time with a winning organization.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • The six-game loss to Atlanta showed the Celtics need to raise their talent level, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Bontemps says GM Danny Ainge has to shake up a roster of “ill-fitting pieces” around All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics own the Nets’ first-round pick, which is almost certain to fall in the top five, and may have more than $50MM to spend once free agency starts July 1st. Bontemps expects the Celtics to chase every elite free agent on the market, adding that they have enough young talent and future picks to become trading partners if the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler or the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins becomes available.
  • The Celtics will need some luck to have the offseason they are hoping for, contends Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Boston has eight picks in this year’s draft, but the position of Brooklyn’s choice will help shape the future of the franchise. The Celtics have a 15.6% chance of landing the top overall selection and a 46.9% shot at staying in the top three. Boston will target Kevin Durant in free agency, and Bontemps believes Ainge is eager to make a deal with his parcel of draft picks, citing his offer to Charlotte last year in hopes of drafting Justise Winslow. The writer mentions Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor as another trade possibility.

Central Notes: Caldwell-Pope, Harris, Lue, Vogel

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may think twice before committing to a contract extension with the Pistons, according to David Mayo of MLive. The third-year shooting guard will be eligible for an extension this offseason, but he may try to increase his value with another productive season and then take his chances as a restricted free agent next summer. “I think what’s important is we’ll have to have discussions and see what’s important to Kentavious and have a sense of where they’re at with the whole thing,” said GM Jeff Bower. “It’s something that doesn’t have to take place. But what does have to take place is an understanding of what’s important, what time frames are important, how he understands his place and role here.” Caldwell-Pope started all 76 games he played this season, averaging 14.3 points per night.

There’s more on the Central Division:

  • Replacing Ersan Ilyasova with Tobias Harris in a February trade helped the Pistons reach the playoffs, Mayo writes in a separate piece. Ilyasova tended to slow down the offense, while Harris displayed a willingness to pass, shoot, drive, rebound and do anything the team needed from him. Detroit’s offensive rating improved nearly three points per 100 possessions after Harris arrived. Mayo adds that the Pistons will emphasize shooting as they search the free agent market for backups at the point guard and power forward positions.
  • Tyronn Lue hasn’t signed a new contract since taking over as the Cavaliers‘ head coach in January, but he’s not interested in any of the open positions around the league, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Lue was the league’s highest-paid assistant, with a four-year deal he signed in 2014 worth $6.5MM. After replacing David Blatt, Lue reached a verbal agreement worth $3MM prorated for his time as head coach this season and another $3MM for next year, along with a team option for 2017/18 at $3.5MM with a buyout. An unidentified source told ESPN the Cavs will live up to the offer and plan to finalize the deal with Lue this summer.
  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel is used to the level of criticism he received after the Game 5 loss to Toronto, which included calls for his firing on social media, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star“I don’t take it personally,” Vogel said after the Indiana blew out the Raptors in Game 6. “I hear everything. I don’t take anything personal. The passion the fans have? It isn’t as strong as mine.”

Hoops Rumors Originals 4/24/16-4/30/16

Here’s a look back at the original analysis generated by the Hoops Rumors staff this past week…

Clippers Notes: Pierce, Paul, Griffin

Paul Pierce said after the Clippers’ playoff exit Friday night that he didn’t want to make an emotional decision about his future and was 50-50 on whether he would return next season,  tweets Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Pierce, 38,  is under contract for $3.5MM next year with a partially guaranteed salary the following year, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders points out (on Twitter).

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • The idea that the Clippers need to break up Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin is exaggerated and the team instead needs to make wiser decisions on free agents and improve in player development, Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com argues in an Insider piece. There’s no way the Clippers would receive the same value in return if they were deal one of them, Andrew Han adds in the same piece.
  • If the Clippers must trade one, however, that player should be Paul because the star point guard will be 31 at the start of next season, Han writes.
  • It may be time to shake things up, considering Paul and Griffin have played together for five seasons and have yet to win a title, opines Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Bresnahan suggests it may be worthwhile for the Clippers to make a deal with the Knicks and acquire Carmelo Anthony.

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