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Eastern Rumors: Sampson, Clifford, Cavs, Celtics

We could have a fairly clear idea of the two teams that will play for the Eastern Conference title by the end of tonight. The Heat appear on their way to the conference finals with a 3-1 lead against the Bulls, and the Pacers can take a 3-1 lead of their own with a win at home against the Knicks tonight. Of course, we won't know for sure until later this week at the earliest, but if Indiana wins this evening, most of the on-court intrigue will shift to the SpursWarriors series in the West. All five open head coaching jobs are in the East, however, and there's news on that along with other notes from around the conference today:

  • The Bobcats are interviewing Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson for their head coaching vacancy today, and they'll meet with Lakers assistant Steve Clifford next week, according to Ken Berger of (Twitter links). The team has reportedly had interest in both. 
  • A few days after receiving permission from the Lakers to do so, the Cavs are interviewing L.A. player development coach Phil Handy for a spot on head coach Mike Brown's staff, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
  • Chris Forsberg of doesn't expect to see resolution on the future of the Celtics soon, suggesting that trade talk involving Paul Pierce could drag on past June 30th, the deadline for Boston to waive Pierce and reduce his cap hit by more than $10MM.
  • The Raptors appear headed for tax territory next season, but the arrival of new executive Tim Leiweke indicates that the team is comfortable paying the tax, writes Stephen Brotherston of HoopsWorld.
  • Eddie Jordan spent parts of nine seasons as an NBA head coach, six of them with the Wizards, but he tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post he doesn't want another NBA head coaching job, no matter how it goes in his new gig as the coach at Rutgers University.

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