Chris Paul

Doc Rivers Talks Offseason, Green, Stephenson

In a conversation with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Clippers head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers discussed a handful of interesting topics, including the Blake Griffin-Matias Testi incident, his relationship with Austin Rivers, and J.J. Redick‘s podcast.

Rivers also weighed in on some of the possible personnel decisions facing the Clippers, and addressed the impact of some decisions that he and the club have made in the past. Here are a few of the more notable quotes from Doc’s conversation with Lowe:

On whether he boxed the Clippers into a corner by saying the team won’t trade its top three players (Chris Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan):

“I don’t worry about the corner thing, ever. I’m always gonna do what’s good for the team. You don’t ever do anything but that. But I feel like the best thing for the team right now is to keep them together. Can that change? Of course it can change. But I don’t think it will.”

On whether Jeff Green will be the Clippers’ starting small forward in 2016/17:

“We gotta sign him first. … We don’t need a superstar [small forward]. We have superstars at other positions. We need guys who are complementary players. Jeff is terrific in that role.”

On Lance Stephenson and why he didn’t work out for the Clippers:

“He played great for Memphis. He wasn’t a great fit for us. Defensively — that’s where I was more disappointed, and shocked. I look at that body, and that athleticism, and I think: That’s a prototypical great defender. And he’s not that. … But I’ll tell you one thing — he’s not a bad kid. He gets cast as this malcontent bad kid, and Lance was never that. I thought he was funny. The guys liked him. But Lance wants to score every time he touches the ball, and he’s not that type of guy.”

On whether Rivers is concerned that the Clippers have given up too many draft picks:

“Yeah. I am. I think we had to because of the cap situation we inherited, but we’re starting to get some back. The best thing to happen to us is we get the Brooklyn pick at the start of the second round. That’s a big deal for us. So now, I think we have a chance to get healthy, get picks and keep building our team.”

Clippers Rumors: Griffin, Paul, Jordan, Crawford

Doc Rivers hinted before the season that he would consider breaking up the team’s core if it fell short in the playoffs again, and trade speculation has surrounded Griffin for much of the year, but Rivers seems to maintain belief in what Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan can do, writes Arash Markazi of The coach/executive said today that he doesn’t think the team’s window for title contention is closed, Markazi tweets.

“I like our team,” Rivers said after Friday’s season-ending loss to Portland. “Our bench was fantastic this year. The problem is we have a lot of free agents on our team and I think a lot of them are going to be attractive, and so we have to fight to keep our own first and then try to build from that point. We’re going to have a difficult time. It’s going to be tough.”

See more on the Clippers:

  • Rivers can’t envision any player in the league picking up his player option for next season, given the sharp escalation of the salary cap that’s poised to create a player-friendly market this summer, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Rivers confirmed that means he expects Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson and son Austin Rivers to opt out from the Clippers this summer, and the coach/executive also believes Paul and Griffin will opt out in the summer of 2017, Bolch relays (Twitter links).
  • Doc Rivers said today that he wants to re-sign as many of the team’s free soon-to-be free agents as possible this summer, according to Bolch (Twitter links). “They all want to come back, but they’ve all played well and so they’ve all made it more difficult,” Rivers said. Jeff Green, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Pablo Prigioni and Jeff Ayres are the Clippers on expiring contracts, and presumably the same sentiment applies to the trio with player options.
  • Crawford said after Friday’s game that he’d like to re-sign with the Clippers, tweets Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian. The 36-year-old Crawford and J.J. Redick, who turns 32 next month, both said on Redick’s podcast for The Vertical that they’d like to play five more years, and Redick would like to sign a four-year deal when his existing contract expires in the summer of 2017, as Markazi relays via Twitter.
  • Paul Pierce has one more year left in him, Rivers believes, according to Bolch (Twitter link). Pierce, 38, is signed through the 2017/18 season but is 50-50 on whether to retire this summer.
  • The creation of a Clippers D-League affiliate will be a matter of discussion this summer, Rivers said, cautioning that it remains uncertain whether a team will be in place in time for next season, tweets Rowan Kavner of The Clips are reportedly exploring the idea of starting a D-League team in Bakersfield, California.

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 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.

Los Angeles Notes: Paul, Griffin, Walton, Fisher

The Lakers don’t want their search for a new coach to be a prolonged one and hope to have their new hire in place prior to the NBA draft in June, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register.  “We’re looking to have a big offseason,” GM Mitch Kupchak said. “It would be nice to have our staff in place during the draft and certainly when July 1st [when teams can begin negotiating with free agents] rolls around.” The executive also expressed hope for a quick turnaround in fortune for the franchise, Oram adds. “We feel we’re positioned well as an organization to quickly be in a different position a year from now,” Kupchak said. “Does that mean 50 or 55 [wins]? I don’t know. … But I do feel we can make great progress.”

Here’s more from L.A.:

  • The Clippers‘ playoff hopes took a major blow today with the team announcing that point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin would likely miss the remainder of the postseason. Paul underwent surgery on his right hand this morning and will be re-evaluated in four to six weeks after fracturing his hand during Monday night’s game, while Griffin is dealing with a left quad injury and is done for the year.
  • Luke Walton, who is rumored to be a favorite for the vacant Lakers coaching post, reiterated his love for being with the Warriors and his focus on the playoffs when asked about potentially coming to Los Angeles next season, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group relays. “I love my job here,” Walton said. “I absolutely love it. I love the playoff battles that we’re in right now. We’ve got prep work to do. Every bit of focus right now should be on the playoffs. So any questions I’m asked about anything else is a distraction in my opinion, and then I’m being selfish. So I’m not answering anything about anything except for our team and the playoffs.
  • Former Knicks coach Derek Fisher has expressed interest in the Lakers coaching position, Ramona Shelburne of relays (ESPN Now link). Fired by the Knicks in February, Fisher’s record in a season and a half with New York was 40-96.
  • Clippers small forward Paul Pierce is adjusting to limited minutes during the postseason but understands his true value as a veteran is to provide leadership, writes Dan Woike of The Orange County Register.

Pacific Rumors: CP3; Lakers, Kings Coaching Jobs

The Clippers suffered a devastating blow and the playoffs took another unexpected turn Monday when Chris Paul broke his right hand in Game 4 against the Trail Blazers, a Portland win that evened the first-round series. Paul is “most likely” out for the rest of the postseason, a source told ESPN’s J.A. Adande (ESPN Now link). A team source said much the same to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). It’s possible a better prognosis will emerge after further tests, and the team will know more today, Adande and Woike report, but the Clippers are in rough shape. Blake Griffin is just “50-50” for the next game because of a sore left quadriceps tendon, coach Doc Rivers said, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of (Twitter link). It all adds up to a potential boost for the Warriors, who’ve lost Stephen Curry for at least two weeks with a sprained knee and will play either the Clippers or the Blazers in the next round, provided they dispatch the Rockets.

See more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers have reached out to Jeff Van Gundy about their coaching vacancy and he has interest, a source close to Van Gundy told Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • College coaches Roy Williams, John Calipari, Jay Wright and Tom Izzo are among the candidates the Lakers will consider, sources told Ramona Shelburne of Former Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek is also expected to be among those the Lakers will look at,’s Brian Windhorst hears, as the website passes along in the same piece.
  • The Lakers felt they needed someone who’s on board with the modern NBA’s more perimeter-oriented style when they dismissed Byron Scott late Sunday, sources told Shelburne, and they would ideally like to hire a big-name coach on the upswing who has strong player development skills, a coaching source indicated to Ken Berger of
  • Vinny Del Negro‘s interview for the Kings head coaching job took place Monday, and Mike Woodson is expected to have his interview as soon as today, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. GM Vlade Divac has been in charge of the interviews and is expected to have the most influential say in the team’s eventual hiring, Wojnarowski adds.

Western Notes: Walton, Pelicans, Gallinari, Paul

Warriors assistant Luke Walton is reportedly poised to become a top candidate for the Knicks coaching vacancy, and the Lakers, Suns, Rockets and Kings are expected to target him, too, but former colleague Alvin Gentry thinks Walton still doesn’t gets the credit he deserves, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Gentry, now head coach of the Pelicans, was on Golden State’s staff last year with Walton, who inherited Gentry’s role as lead assistant and guided the Warriors to a 39-4 record while head coach Steve Kerr recovered from back surgeries. “Luke did an unbelievable job of managing egos, of rotations he played,” Gentry said. “Everything that happened there, he pushed the right buttons, so I was disappointed when people said anybody can coach that team. That’s not true at all. He has an unbelievable understanding of the game. I think [Knicks president] Phil [Jackson] knows that. [Luke] stayed in the league for a long time because of the basketball IQ he has. He gets along great with players. He’s going to be a terrific coach in the league – I really do think that.”

See more from the Western Conference:

Cavaliers Rumors: LeBron, Irving, Williams, Lue

After a week filled with speculation sparked by comments that he would like to team up with three of his friends, LeBron James is expressing confidence in the Cavaliers’ chances at an NBA title, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. James said he dreams of joining forces with Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul for at least one season before they all retire. That came on the heels of a decision Monday to unfollow the Cavs’ official Twitter account. On Saturday, James, who can opt out of his contract this summer, expressed confidence in his current teammates and indicated his long-term future will be in Cleveland. “I believe in what we have,” he said. “And I know we can win a championship with the group we have. And I’m confident in my abilities to lead this group and everything else is smoke and mirrors and doesn’t really matter to me.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • The constant hints about his future have turned James into a distraction, contends Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Replacing head coach David Blatt with Tyronn Lue was supposed to bring peace to the locker room, but Heisler writes that point guard Kyrie Irving isn’t willing to become a second option to James the way that Wade did in Miami. Irving is seven years younger than James and is signed through 2019, so Heisler thinks he considers himself a cornerstone in Cleveland regardless of what James decides.
  • Backup point guard Mo Williams returned to the court Saturday for the first time in a month after getting an injection in his left knee, according to Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Williams had just started practicing a few days ago, but Lue asked him to help out with Irving sidelined. “I just started on-court stuff Monday,” Williams said. “In my mind it was next week, that’s what I was telling everyone silently. Every situation is different and I’m the ultimate team guy. I’m not going to put our team in a bind.” Williams said he will probably have knee pain the rest of his career but doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.
  • Lue resumed coaching the defense after the Cavs gave up 122 points last week in a loss to Miami, Lloyd writes in the same piece. He had given those duties to assistant Mike Longabardi after being named head coach.

Reaction To Talk Of LeBron-‘Melo-Wade-CP3 Team

A meeting between LeBron James and Cavaliers GM David Griffin and conflicting statements from Carmelo Anthony represented some of the fallout from the Wednesday publication of comments that James made shortly before the All-Star break about his desire to play at least one NBA season on the same team as Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. James has spoken with Cavs management in the past to propose the idea of trading for Anthony, who has a no-trade clause, a source told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, though it’s not clear when such talk took place. James and Griffin spoke in general terms Wednesday, according to Joe Vardon of The conversation was “positive and productive,” with James striking an upbeat tone about the Cavs, Vardon writes.

Anthony echoed James’ assertion that he would take a discount to facilitate teaming with the other stars, though he hinted that if it happened, it wouldn’t take place in New York, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. The Knicks have Anthony under contract until at least 2018, when he can opt out.

“Everybody has fantasies,” Anthony said. “We’d all have to take pay cuts. I’d take one. I think at that time we’d want to go someplace warm. Later — [close to] retirement.’’

Anthony re-signed with the Knicks in 2014, though he reiterated Wednesday, when the Knicks beat the Bulls, that he came “very close” to signing with Chicago that summer instead, notes Nick Friedell of (Twitter link). Still, Anthony once more restated his commitment to the Knicks during ESPN’s broadcast of the game, McMenamin notes.

“I came here for a reason, which was to win in New York,” Anthony said. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case thus far, but I feel like I have unfinished business to take care of. And I feel like, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, if I just get up and run away from something that I started, that I feel a part of and that’s not done yet, then I think I would carry that burden on my shoulders. That’s just me as an individual.”

James isn’t sure that having the four stars on the same team would fly with any owner, given the vast power the players would have in such a circumstance, a source told McMenamin. The former MVP tamped down the notion of playing with his high-profile friends in comments he made Wednesday, as McMenamin relays.

“It would definitely be cool if it happened, but we don’t know how realistic it could be to have us four,” James said. “If you got an opportunity to work with three of your best friends, no matter what, it’s not even about sports, it’s about being around guys that you don’t even have to say nothing, you automatically know. We just have that type of history. Can it happen? I don’t know if it can even happen but it would be cool.”

James had a lingering chat with Wade at halftime of Cleveland’s loss to Miami on Saturday while the Cavs were warming up, and James later apologized to Cavs coach Tyronn Lue for that, Vardon writes. Cleveland was down 21 at the time in a game the Cavs lost by that same margin.

“I just told him we can’t have that, being down like we were and him being the leader,” Lue said to Vardon. “Just me being a competitor, I didn’t like it. We had a long talk about it. It was good. He understood, he apologized, and he’s been great.”

Wade largely brushed off talk of playing with James, Anthony and Paul, as ESPN’s Michael Wallace relays in McMenamin’s story.

“I don’t know, man,” Wade said. “Yeah, I heard it. I read it. I’m not really jumping into the headlines right now. For me, I’m focused on my teammates in here. As cool as the headlines is, that has nothing to do with what we’re trying to do in here.”

LeBron Longs To Play With Wade, ‘Melo, CP3

LeBron James is holding out hope that he can team with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul for at least one season before they retire, as he told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. James, 31, and Wade, 34, can hit free agency this summer, but the 30-year-old Paul’s locked in with the Clippers through next season and Anthony, 31, doesn’t have an opt-out in his deal until the summer of 2018.

“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” James said to Beck just before the All-Star break last month in comments that Beck kept under wraps until today (Twitter link). “At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP — we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that.”

Each is probably powerful enough to force a trade, with most such chatter surrounding Anthony, who has a no-trade clause that he’s been reluctant to consider waiving. Rumors about a three-team deal involving the Knicks, Celtics and Cavaliers emerged before the trade deadline this year, but it never appeared as though Anthony was close to joining James in Cleveland. Anthony once more reiterated his commitment to the Knicks today, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays.

“I know the reason why I stuck it out,’’ Anthony said. “People that really understand it know why I’m sticking it out. It’s odd to question my loyalty at this point in time, especially when you showed and I’ve showed time and time again my loyalty to not just the organization, but New York and vice versa.”

Still, commitments change. That was the case with Anthony and the Nuggets, a team ‘Melo believed in strongly enough in 2006 to resist what James admits were veiled overtures meant to convince Anthony to sign a shorter extension that would allow him to become a free agent in 2010, just as James and Wade did, as Beck details. That was the summer that James and Wade teamed up on the Heat while Anthony and Paul remained under contract in Denver and New Orleans, respectively.

Anthony told Beck in January that he was disappointed that the Pistons passed him up with the second overall pick in 2003, saying that he’d been told Detroit would take him. It’s not clear who told Anthony that the Pistons would draft him instead of Darko Milicic, the center the Pistons fatefully selected when the time came. Regardless, the bond between James, Anthony, Wade and Paul is strong, and it’s made an impression on Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, who’s mentored all of them with the USA Basketball program.

“I think they love one another,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s so damn genuine, and it’s so cool to see. … They have each others’ back, on everything.”

Do you think James, Wade, Anthony and Paul will all play together on an NBA team at some point? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Booker, Looney

The Clippers did not seem to miss power forward Blake Griffin during the initial aftermath of the quadriceps tendon tear he suffered on Christmas, but that has changed, Andrew Han of writes. Point guard Chris Paul told Han and other reporters after the Clippers lost to the Cavs by 24 points on Sunday that Griffin’s extended absence is taking a toll. “[Playing without him] gets real tough,” Paul said. “They have three, four guys out there that [with a] low shot clock can bail you out. Just all that tension that he brings opens it up for all of us.” The Clippers won their first nine games without Griffin but have stumbled recently, losing by double digits in three of their last five games. Griffin’€s hand, which he fractured in a January 23rd fight with assistant equipment manager Matias Testi, has healed faster than his quad. Once he is cleared for game action, Griffin still faces a four-game team-imposed suspension for that incident.

In other news around the Pacific Division:
  • The Clippers are likely to keep their superstar trio of Paul, Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan intact this summer, a panel of ESPN Insider experts opines. As Jeremias Engelmann points out, superstars rarely get dealt unless they request a trade. A majority of the panel also believes the Clippers will be better off when Griffin returns from his injuries and suspension.
  • Rookie shooting guard Devin Booker is often initiating the Suns’ half-court offense, even with the return of point guard Brandon Knight from a sports hernia, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports. Booker recorded 11 assists against the Warriors on Saturday. “Both of us can bring the ball up the floor, so you get the rest,” Booker told Coro. “If you have to bring it up every time, it’s tough on a team.”
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was instrumental in the Warriors hiring Bob Myers as their assistant GM in 2011, as owner Joe Lacob discusses at length in an interview with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. Myers was promoted to GM the following year.
  • The Warriors recalled power forward Kevon Looney from their D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, according to the team’s website. Looney has appeared in 12 games with Santa Cruz this season, including two games during his latest assignment.

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