Earlier today, the Clippers signed DaJuan Summers for the season, and we passed along word that Grant Hill is likely to retire at season's end. Here are a few more Thursday items from out of the Pacific Division:
- Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Insider-only link) expects Dwight Howard to re-sign with the Lakers, but notes that there are other potentially attractive destinations in play. Broussard breaks down the pros and cons of three likely Howard suitors, the Hawks, Rockets, and Mavericks.
- Metta World Peace's rehab from knee surgery is off to a good start, though his future is still uncertain, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
- As Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld explains, when the NBA Board of Governors votes on the future of the Kings, the decision won't necessarily come down to Seattle vs. Sacramento, since the Board can't force the Maloofs to sell to the Sacramento group. The Board of Governors will simply be voting on whether or not to approve the sale to the Seattle group, so if the sale is to be declined, there will need to be real cause.
- In his latest column for the Los Angeles Times, T.J. Simers argues that the immaturity of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is dragging the Clippers down, and says Jordan "blames [head coach Vinny] Del Negro for burying him on the bench."
Here's the latest from around the Western Conference, where the Lakers are three games back of the Rockets for the eighth seed and three and a half back of the seventh-place Jazz:
- Although his plan was being openly questioned in NBA circles eight months ago, GM Daryl Morey continues to build the Rockets into a team with strong long-term potential, observes Grantland's Zach Lowe. Within his piece, Lowe writes that Morey and assistant coach Kelvin Sampson were both fixated on acquiring James Harden, and that the team would like to add a defense-first wing to the roster.
- The Clippers were "closer than people think" to acquiring Kevin Garnett for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan last week, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
- Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News questions whether the Mavericks ought to try to build a team around Dwight Howard, even if the All-Star center is willing to sign in Dallas this summer.
- Although Dirk Nowitzki indicated recently that he hopes to play for a few more years, his focus for now is more on the short term, as he tells Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. "[Mark Cuban]’s obviously said his bank’s open, so we’ll see what happens this
summer," Nowitzki said. "It’s going to be a big summer for us. We want to get back to
winning ways. We always competed and were part of the playoffs, so we’ll
see what happens this summer. It’s going to be a big summer for this
- The Thunder decided to bring back Derek Fisher for the stretch run because they know exactly what they're getting in the veteran point guard, writes Susan Bible of HoopsWorld.
12:09pm: Sources tell Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter links) that Garnett seems "dead-set" on remaining with the Celtics as long as Paul Pierce is there and they're a playoff team. While the Clippers will keep working the phones, a trade would be a surprise, says Markazi.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com adds that one person involved in previous Clippers/C's talks hasn't detected a renewed push to revisit talks (Twitter link).
11:08am: Bulpett clarifies in a second tweet that some members of the Clippers' front office are in favor of revisiting talks with the Celtics, while others aren't so sure.
11:03am: On Tuesday night, we heard that the Clippers and Celtics had shut down trade talks involving Kevin Garnett, Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan, and anyone else. Although reports since then have suggested it may be a quiet deadline for the Clips, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald is hearing word of a "new push" from L.A. to do something with the Celtics (Twitter link).
As we've noted previously, Garnett would have to waive his no-trade clause if the Celtics hope to include him in any deal. KG has publicly said he has no intention of doing that, but the Clippers are believed to be perhaps the one team that could convince him otherwise. Of course, it's worth mentioning that Bulpett's tweet didn't specifically mention Garnett, but I'd be surprised if the two teams were discussing an entirely new deal.
After ACL surgery ended Rajon Rondo's season, Celtics president Danny Ainge insisted that he wanted to see how his team responded before deciding what sort of roster moves to consider. The Celtics have been on a tear since then, but Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa have also seen their seasons end prematurely due to injuries, leaving the team with a dearth of healthy bodies. While we wait to see wait Ainge and the C's have up their sleeves before Thursday, here are the latest rumblings from out of Boston:
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com isn't convinced that Kevin Garnett could be persuaded to waive his no-trade clause, even if it meant joining a team like the Clippers. According to Stein, ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported last night on SportsCenter that Chauncey Billups believes his friend's position on not waiving his no-trade clause is firm.
- Even if Garnett were to agree to a deal, the Clippers aren't willing to include both Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan in their proposal, according to Stein. The ESPN.com scribe cautions that it could be posturing on the Clippers' part, but one source says the Clippers feel like that's too much to give up for a 36-year-old who may not play much longer.
- Outside of weighing possible deals involving Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Celtics have also explored possibilities that include Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Fab Melo, and Avery Bradley, but have only received lukewarm interest, according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. I imagine plenty of teams would like to get their hands on Bradley, but perhaps the Celtics' asking price is exorbitant.
- One opposing executive on the Celtics, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "[They] are one of the more active teams out there talking, but they really
don’t have a lot of great options. They don’t have a lot to trade."
- Bulpett reports that the Clippers have yet to make a formal offer for Garnett. He also adds that Ainge doesn't feel any pressure to do anything more drastic than to add a player or two. "I love how hard our guys play and compete," Ainge said. "They do need some support
with some extra bodies for the rest of the year. I definitely need to do
that, to add some players to our roster. But that’s all that we need to
Los Angeles Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks tells Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times that the team is not actively shopping DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, or any other player on its roster:
"I haven't called anybody to say, 'Hey, we have Eric Bledsoe and would you like him?' Or, 'We have DeAndre Jordan or we have anybody and would you want them?' That's not where I am right now with this team," Sacks said in a phone interview from Houston on Saturday. "That's not where we are."
Sacks' comments come in the wake of widespread reports that the Clippers are discussing a deal with the Celtics that would send Bledsoe and Jordan to Boston in exchange for Kevin Garnett, but may be viewed as a message to other teams that he is not interested in dealing the two players.
4:47pm: Though he made comments indicating he would welcome Garnett to L.A., Chris Paul said he's not pushing the Clippers to make the deal, notes USA Today's Sam Amick.
4:22pm: Garnett has not ruled out accepting a trade to Los Angeles, a source tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The Clippers, who began their efforts to land Garnett with the Bledsoe-Butler package more than two weeks ago, have always been willing to increase their price, Deveney writes.
3:42pm: Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe hears the teams have not discussed Garnett, and that the Clippers don't want to approach the luxury tax line (Twitter link). The Clippers are about $1MM shy of the $70.307MM tax threshold, but acquiring Garnett for Jordan and Bledsoe would save the team money. The other version of the deal, sending out Green, Turiaf and Butler, would likely make the Clippers a taxpayer.
2:51pm: Though Garnett has said he won't waive his no-trade clause under any circumstances, the Clippers are confident they can persuade him to come to L.A. if the Celtics tell him it's a deal they want to make, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
SATURDAY, 10:45am: Sean Deveney of the Sporting News tweets that the Clippers' primary incentive to do the trade is Del Negro's belief that Jordan isn't a championship-caliber center. He writes that the team discussed the possibility of trading for Anderson Varejao before the Cavs' big man's season-ending injury.
FRIDAY, 12:53am: Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro would be willing to do the deal, but the team's front office is "totally against the move," according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Clippers executives would prefer to send out Willie Green, Ronny Turiaf and Caron Butler for Garnett (Twitter links).
12:11am: The Celtics and Clippers have been in consistent contact about a trade that would send Kevin Garnett to L.A. for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan, report Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Factions within both teams are debating whether the deal would be the best course of action. This appears to be the latest incarnation of a proposal that would have sent Bledsoe and Caron Butler to Boston for Garnett.
After that rumor surfaced a couple of weeks ago, we heard that Garnett would not waive his no-trade clause unless he was dealt to L.A., which is close to his home in Malibu, Calif., and also unless the Celtics also traded Paul Pierce. While no Pierce trade appears imminent, sources tell Wojnarowski and Spears that Garnett's close relationship with Clippers guard Chauncey Billups could help coax him into accepting the swap.
The Clippers have been reluctant to deal Bledsoe without knowing what Chris Paul will do in free agency this summer, but the team's front office is becoming increasingly confident Paul will re-sign, according to the Yahoo! report. Many within the organization believe Garnett would strengthen the team's title hopes, which explains the team's pursuit. It appears that the Clippers initiated talks of the earlier Garnett-Bledsoe-Butler proposal.
Wojnarowski and Spears point out that acquiring Bledsoe would allow the Celtics to deal away Rajon Rondo without getting a point guard in return, and earlier tonight a report surfaced about a potential Rondo/Dwight Howard swap. As I wrote then, it appears Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is aggressively pursuing his options as Thursday's trade deadline nears. Ainge has reportedly been looking for something to get "really, really excited about" in any deal for Garnett, and it's unclear whether Bledsoe and Jordan would be enough to satisfy that requirement.
From a salary perspective, the deal works out well for the Celtics. It would only add $674,432K to the team's salary, leaving about $2MM under Boston's $74.307MM hard cap, plenty of room to pursue another player to fill out the team's injury-depleted roster. Jordan's four-year, $43MM contract includes a 15% trade kicker, but because it was signed after the league's current CBA went into effect, the Clippers would have to absorb the extra money if they trade their center, and not the team that acquires him.
Already today, we've passed along a few trade rumors from Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game and Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. Now, it's Chris Broussard's turn, as the ESPN reporter has published a lengthy Insider-only piece on the latest rumblings from around the league. Here's what Broussard has for us:
- The Hornets have made some calls to gauge Eric Gordon's trade value, but Broussard hears that there's less than a 10% chance he's moved within the next week. The Mavericks, Rockets, and the Warriors are among the clubs believed to have inquired on Gordon.
- The Rockets still figure to make a run at Dwight Howard this summer, but Andrew Bynum and perhaps a trade for Gordon are the team's Plan Bs. Since Houston is saving its cap space for the summer, the club isn't expected to be too active at the trade deadline.
- Indiana will likely keep Danny Granger through the deadline, but is willing to move Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustin, or Gerald Green. The Pacers dangled Hansbrough and Augustin when talking to the Magic about J.J. Redick, but Orlando didn't have interest.
- Three different general managers told Broussard on Wednesday that Danny Ferry and the Hawks have decided not to re-sign Josh Smith this summer and are trying hard to trade him this week. Rival executives don't expect Ferry to settle for the Nets' offer of Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks, however.
- The Hawks have also discussed moving Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow.
- Teams have been calling the Suns, one of the league's most active clubs, about Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, and Jared Dudley. A deal with the Knicks involving Dudley and Iman Shumpert is "not happening," according to Broussard's sources.
- As has been the case for many reporters over the last few weeks, Broussard has received mixed reports on whether the Jazz are more likely to trade Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson. The Trail Blazers are one team that likes Millsap, says Broussard.
- A few executives that have spoken to Broussard have mentioned the possibility of the Clippers trying to trade DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler to create the necessary cap space to make a play for Dwight Howard this summer. That one sounds awfully far-fetched to me though, considering the team would have to make additional moves to clear enough room, and would have to acquire only expiring contracts in return. Even then, there's no guarantee they could land Howard as a free agent.
Marc Stein's Weekend Dime at ESPN.com is usually full of juicy rumors year-round, and with the trade deadline less than two weeks away, this week's edition is especially jam-packed. Let's dig in:
- The Clippers went fishing for Kevin Garnett, and while the Celtics seem uninterested in such a swap, Stein expects Clippers to keep looking for deals as the trade deadline draws near. L.A. might like to send out DeAndre Jordan, who's eager for more playing time and whose lack of production has frustrated coach Vinny Del Negro, but the more likely trade chip is third-year point guard Eric Bledsoe. Stein hears there's a 99.5% chance Chris Paul re-signs this summer, but if the Clippers endure an early playoff exit, Paul's future, as well as Del Negro's job, could hang in the balance.
- If the Hawks trade Josh Smith, they'll be looking for "a quality young center" in return.
- The Grizzlies have told Zach Randolph they won't trade him, and Memphis is unlikely to make another move involving Randolph or anyone else. Still, despite coach Lionel Hollins' insistence that he and management are on the same page, the coach's dim view of the Rudy Gay trade has cast a pall on the locker room, as Stein writes.
- Reports that the Rockets have interest in Danny Granger are inaccurate, according to Stein.
- Denver isn't biting on an offer for Timofey Mozgov unless the Nuggets get one that's "crazy good."
- The Sixers, open to a shakeup as they wait for Andrew Bynum to make his Philadelphia debut, are shopping Evan Turner.
- Samuel Dalembert was on the market even before he did his best to showcase his value with a career-best 35-point game against the Nuggets this week, and he's not the only player Milwaukee might trade. Monta Ellis and Beno Udrih are among the Bucks who could be on the move.
- Boston isn't better with Rajon Rondo out for the season, but Stein believes the Celtics' six-game winning streak can be at least partially explained by the team's improved attitude without the moody Rondo around.
As the Lakers look to improve upon a 5-14 road record tonight against the Grizzlies in Memphis, we'll check in on a few of today's updates out of Lakerland....
- After complaining earlier this week about not getting enough touches, Dwight Howard apologized today, accepting responsibility for his struggles and saying he needs to work harder, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. "I've just got to go out there and dominate defensively and make it
tough for teams," Howard said. "I just have to get back to doing that and not worry
about the offense."
- Howard, on the return of the trade rumors that followed him everywhere last season: "I understand why they're saying that because they feel like I have
an opportunity to just walk away. That is my choice at
the end of the season but right now my focus is tonight and us doing
something real special in L.A. We have that opportunity and we can't
close the door on the opportunity that we have in front of us. We can
turn this thing around."
- Bresnahan also reports that the Lakers had a sort of "clear-the-air" team meeting before today's shootaround, and that the players "went at each other a little bit." The meeting included Steve Nash saying he was open to any style of play, as long as everyone was comfortable with the system, and Kobe Bryant directly asking Howard if the All-Star center dislikes playing with him.
- According to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, the Clippers would offer Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan for Howard. However, even if the Lakers were considering moving D12, Broussard admits it's unlikely they'd send him to their L.A. rivals.
- Jordan Hill underwent successful surgery on his left hip today and is expected to be sidelined for six months, the team announced in a press release.
- Earlier today, we looked at a few of Mitch Kupchak's comments on the team, Mike D'Antoni, and trade options.
Jabari Davis of Sheridan Hoops noted
a few highlights from a roundtable discussion between longtime personal friend of Phil Jackson
/NBA author Roland Lazenby and the hosts of a blog talk radio show called TheOpinioNationNetwork. Most notably, Lazenby feels that Jackson's return to the Lakers
is a foregone conclusion and went on to briefly talk about how Jackson would be able to handle the team's schedule, Nash's fit within the triangle offense, and where he currently stands with Jerry Buss.
While the head coaching situation in Los Angeles currently appears to be the most polarizing topic of the basketball world, we'll keep track of tonight's other rumblings from around the Association here: