Los Angeles Clippers

Southeast Notes: Griffin, Harris, Teague

The Magic were one of several teams to reach out to the Clippers about trading for Blake Griffin, reports Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who writes in his NBA AM piece. They didn’t get very far, but a serious discussion nonetheless took place about the idea of sending three Magic players, including Tobias Harris, to L.A., sources told Kyler. The Sixers and Nuggets also reportedly spoke with the Clippers, who nonetheless aren’t interested in trading their star power forward, at least this season.

Here’s the latest from  the Southeast Division:

  • Orlando has reportedly expressed some degree of willingness to trade Harris, but the team would have to be blown away to pull the trigger on any deal involving the combo forward, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN relays (on Twitter). Harris re-signed with the Magic for four years and $64MM in July.
  • The Sixers have contacted the Hawks to gauge the availability of point guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia hasn’t made a trade offer yet and appears unlikely to make a serious push for either playmaker, according to Pompey’s sources. The players on the Sixers with the highest trade value are Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, but the team doesn’t want to deal either big man away until the health status of Joel Embiid is clearer, which isn’t likely to be until the offseason, Pompey adds.
  • The consensus among the teams that have contacted the Hawks regarding Teague and Al Horford is that any deal involving the duo would likely be a deadline day one, Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports tweets. Atlanta’s asking price for either player is extremely high, which complicates any potential trade, Mannix adds.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Austin Rivers To Miss 4 To 6 Weeks

WEDNESDAY, 10:41am: The Clippers are optimistic that Rivers will be back at the early end of the timetable because he doesn’t need surgery on the hand, coach/executive Doc Rivers said, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

SUNDAY, 9:17am: Rivers’ left hand is fractured, Dan Woike of the OC Register confirms (Twitter link). Woike added that Rivers will be further evaluated on Monday.

SATURDAY, 10:14pm: Clippers combo guard Austin Rivers will be sidelined four to six weeks with a broken left hand, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Rivers suffered what the team called a hand contusion during Wednesday’s game and was a game-time decision for Friday’s contest before being held out.

“I went into the lane, and something, either an elbow or something, hit me just dead in the middle of my hand,” Rivers told Rowan Kavner of NBA.com. “I just got a bad bone bruise, swelling around it.”

The Rivers injury is the latest blow to a team that is already missing star forward Blake Griffin with a broken hand. Rivers has averaged 8.1 points in 46 games this season, mostly in a back-up role. His loss could mean more playing time for Lance Stephenson, who has struggled for minutes until recently.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Griffin, Cousins, Watson

The fast pace of the Kings under George Karl has perturbed players and management, and concerns exist over the effect of the two-time cancer survivor’s health on his ability to coach, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. It’s hard for players to hear Karl, who endured neck and throat cancer while with the Nuggets, over the din of NBA arenas, Amick writes. Owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly hired Karl in part to run an up-tempo offense, so it’s odd to see pace become an issue. Still, the Kings have apparently committed to keeping Karl, in spite of reports that they planned to fire him.

“If they let George do his job and coach this team like he’s done in the past, they will get what they are both always seeking, respectability as a team and organization,” Karl’s agent, Warren Legarie, said in a statement to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

See more on the always-entertaining Kings amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • Blake Griffin has been suspended for four games without pay and fined him the equivalent of a fifth game check for reportedly hitting assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, an incident that left Griffin with a broken right hand, as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reported and the Clippers shortly thereafter confirmed (Twitter links). It’s officially a team suspension, Amick reports (Twitter link), so the Clippers won’t reap any tax savings as they would have if it were an NBA suspension. The team suspension also allows the Clippers some leeway in determining whether it’ll start before or after Griffin is fully recovered from his hand injury, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times points out (on Twitter), though the team has no plan to do so, Woike relays (via Twitter).
  • The Kings still aren’t seriously considering any DeMarcus Cousins trade before the deadline, but they’re expected to decide soon whether to use the months after the deadline to “lay the groundwork” for a later trade of the star big man, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. That process could take a while, Deveney writes, pointing to Minnesota’s months-long effort to find a suitable Kevin Love deal in 2014.
  • Interim Suns coach Earl Watson spent only one season with the Spurs organization, as a D-League coach last year, but San Antonio’s philosophy has a clear influence on the style he’s bringing to Phoenix, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Western Notes: Griffin, Kings, Durant

Blake Griffin wouldn’t necessarily welcome a trade that would bring him to his hometown of Oklahoma City, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports. The possibility hasn’t been discussed within Griffin’s camp, but for Griffin, playing in Oklahoma City would be akin to playing in New York City because of the attention he would receive, Berger adds. The Clippers reportedly wouldn’t hesitate to swap Griffin for Kevin Durant. The Clippers will also reportedly strongly consider dealing Griffin this summer if they don’t make a deep playoff run. There have been rumors that the Clippers may think about dealing Griffin in the wake of an incident with an equipment manager that the team reportedly believes could keep him out of action for two months. However, Clippers executive/coach Doc Rivers said Griffin will remain with the team.

Here’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • George Karl‘s camp expects him to remain coach of the Kings at least until the All-Star break, Sam Amick of USA Today Sports reports (on Twitter). The Kings’ final game before the break is Tuesday. It is worth noting that Rajon Rondo is particularly fond of Karl, but that may not matter, Amick tweets. The Kings are reportedly mulling whether to fire Karl.
  • Durant told reporters recently that it’s tough for him not to think about his upcoming free agency, Michael Singer of USA Today Sports relays. “There’s a lot of uncertainty going on, because I haven’t really thought that far,” Durant said. “But I’m just trying to focus on playing basketball. Once that times comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out. But right now I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level, an elite level every day, at practice, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task so I can’t focus on anything else other than that.”
  • Staying healthy is better than any move the Mavs could make at the trade deadline, opines Bobby Marks of The Vertical in the Dallas installment of his deadline guide series.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Stoudemire, McRoberts

Count Clippers executive/coach Doc Rivers among those who appreciates Heat coach Erik Spoelstra experimenting with using Hassan Whiteside, who will be a free agent this summer, off the bench, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Whiteside has played the last few games as a reserve after missing the prior six games with a hip injury. “It makes their bench better,” Rivers said. “Sometimes by putting one guy in and taking one guy and putting him on the bench, and that guy coming off the bench could be a better player, it makes the bench better, it makes your team better.”

Here is more on Whiteside and the Heat:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who has started over Whiteside recently, was one of the Clippers’ backup plans if DeAndre Jordan had bolted to the Mavs, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Stoudemire, 33, will be a free agent again this summer.
  • Speaking of Stoudemire, the veteran played in only three of Miami’s first 28 games, logging a total of 27 minutes in that span, but kept himself ready and his patience has been rewarded, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press relays. Stoudemire is thriving in the Heat’s pick-and-roll game and is giving Miami the presence it expected when it signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.5MM last summer, Reynolds adds.
  • When the Heat signed Josh McRoberts in 2014, he was supposed to be a significant part of Miami’s rotation, but the the versatile power forward has suffered several injuries and there is a good chance he will never be a starter again, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post details in an interesting Q&A. “Obviously it could have gone smoother in terms of not being injured, but it doesn’t matter to me,” McRoberts told Lieser in reference to his injuries and tenure so far with the Heat. “It didn’t change my role that much. That’s not something I worry about. I’m just trying to get healthy and have a chance to help the team in a way that I know I can.”

Nuggets Rumors: Hickson, Barton, Lauvergne

J.J. Hickson has handled trade rumors and reduced playing time in the best possible way, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. The Nuggets have been shopping the 27-year-old center/forward, who has been with the team since signing as a free agent in 2013. Hickson, who has fallen out of the rotation, is making nearly $5.614MM this season in the final year of an expiring contract. Coach Michael Malone has acknowledged the difficult situation that Hickson is in and complimented him for approaching it professionally and keeping himself ready to play.

Dempsey lists several other Nuggets who are attracting interest as the February 18th trade deadline nears:

  • Denver is getting numerous inquiries about Will Barton but doesn’t seem interested in making a deal. The 25-year-old shooting guard has taken a step forward this season, averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Dempsey says the Nuggets know they have a “gem” in Barton, who is signed through the 2017/18 season.
  • The Nuggets began getting calls on second-year center Joffrey Lauvergne before the season started. Denver turned down those offers, and Dempsey believes the team will keep Lauvergne, in spite of a report that the Nuggets are seeking a late first-round pick for him. The Post scribe acknowledges that it’s not a certainty the Nuggets will hang on to the big man, but Malone has stated more than once that he considers Lauvergne part of the future, Dempsey notes. Lauvergne, who was the 55th pick in 2013, is also signed through 2017/18.
  • Kenneth Faried isn’t on the trade block, but Dempsey believes a “too good to be true” offer might change the Nuggets’ minds. The 26-year-old power forward has three years and nearly $39MM left after this season on the extension he signed in 2014.
  • The Nuggets were mentioned in Blake Griffin trade rumors last week, but Dempsey doesn’t think the Clippers will be dealing their star forward this season. He says L.A. has a “win now” philosophy, but that could change with another playoff disappointment. If that happens, the Nuggets would still be interested in Griffin this summer.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Griffin, Russell

Rumors are again swirling of a possible coaching change in Sacramento, but firing George Karl now might not be the Kings‘ best move, contends Sam Amick of USA Today. The columnist warns that an immediate change could make it difficult for the team to conduct a thorough search for Karl’s replacement. He adds that Sacramento has been looking at former Thunder coach Scott Brooks, ex-Bulls mentor Tom Thibodeau and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson for a while.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings should get rid of Karl right away because they have barely improved despite raising their talent level, argues Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Sacramento is just 21-29 and falling out of the playoff picture even though it signed Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Caron Butler in free agency and drafted Willie Cauley-Stein sixth overall. Ziller also slams Karl for trying to get rid of DeMarcus Cousins, for having an up-tempo game plan that doesn’t fit the team’s talent and for having a poor defensive team.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers didn’t waste words when asked about Blake Griffin‘s future in L.A., tweets Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times. “Blake’s ours,” Rivers said, “and he’s going to stay ours.” There have been rumors that the Clippers may consider dealing Griffin in the wake of an incident with an equipment manager that the team reportedly believes could keep him out of action for two months.
  • Lakers coach Byron Scott has been trying to make rookie D’Angelo Russell feel like he’s earning his minutes, according to Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. In what he says was an effort to keep Russell’s ego under control, Scott pulled him and Julius Randle from the starting lineup on December 7th. “I didn’t want him to just feel, ‘This is who I am. I should be starting on the Lakers because I’m the second pick,’” Scott said. “No, you’re starting because you work hard and you earn it.”

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Tucker, Simmons

Clippers power forward Blake Griffin underwent a second surgical procedure this week on his broken right hand, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com relays. The latest procedure was related to his initial one and isn’t considered a setback, Shelburne notes. The original expectation that Griffin will miss approximately four to six weeks is still currently in place, according to the ESPN scribe. The Sixers and Nuggets have reportedly checked on Griffin’s availability, though the Clippers have no active interest in trading him in spite of offers that several teams have made. A report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports noted that L.A. plans a concerted effort to look for Griffin trades in the offseason if they disappoint in the playoffs this spring. While Griffin waits to learn if he’ll be facing discipline from the NBA, here’s more of what’s happening in the Pacific Division…

  • P.J. Tucker, who is the subject of recent trade rumors involving the Raptors, says he wants to remain with the Suns, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic relays. “I love being in Phoenix,” Tucker said. “It’s been my longest stop of my career and hopefully it continues.” This desire to remain in Phoenix is dampened by the team’s struggles this season, Coro adds. “It would suck,” Tucker said about a potential trade. “I’m not going to lie. I was here when it was down. We came up and now we’re having a tough year this year. Seeing it full circle and not obtaining the goal of making the playoffs since I’ve been here, that wouldn’t be the top of my list of things that I like.
  • The Lakers currently hold a 19.9% chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick this June and there are questions if Ben Simmons, the projected top pick in this year’s NBA draft, and power forward Julius Randle would fit well together, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. “Julius Randle is that 4 guy who handles the basketball,” NBA TV analyst Steve Smith opined. “It would be interesting if they would play them together or not together.” If the Lakers did select Simmons in the draft it would raise questions regarding Randle’s future with the franchise considering the number of similarities between the players’ games, Medina notes. “He has to be the secondary ball-handler,” an NBA executive said of Simmons. “If you’re not going to use him as a point forward, you’re wasting your time.

Latest On Blake Griffin

The Sixers and Nuggets have talked to the Clippers about Blake Griffin, league sources tell Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio and Amico Hoops (Twitter link), confirming an earlier dispatch from Mitch Lawrence of Forbes, who first reported the involvement of the Nuggets. However, the Clippers have no active interest in trading him in spite of offers that several teams have made, a source told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

It doesn’t seem as though the Nuggets have assets that align with what the Clippers would want for Griffin, observes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (All Twitter links), even though Lawrence indicates that the Clippers were the ones who began the dialogue. The Sixers, like the Nuggets, will have as many as four first-round picks this year, but they have less to offer on their existing roster, as their league-worst 7-42 record would indicate.

The Nuggets have reservations about their ability to re-sign Griffin, whose contract runs through 2017/18 and includes an opt-out for the summer of 2017, Lawrence writes. Danilo Gallinari would be available for the right return, according to Lawrence, but it appears the price for Gallinari is high, as the Celtics have reportedly been unable to pry him from Denver. Outside of Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets are “open for business,” as Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports said in a recent radio appearance, and Lawrence confirms the team would be willing to trade Kenneth Faried.

The Clippers plan a concerted effort to look for Griffin trades in the offseason if they disappoint in the playoffs this spring, as fellow Vertical scribe Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today, but coach/executive Doc Rivers isn’t eager to trade the star power forward before the deadline, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote recently. Philadelphia chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo said this week that the Sixers aren’t actively looking for a deadline trade while not ruling out the possibility of making one. A pursuit of Griffin that takes place in the offseason would fall in line with reported efforts the team made to sign Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard under GM Sam Hinkie this past summer, though it’s unclear just how the Sixers will function now that Colangelo is around.

The broken shooting hand Griffin suffered, reportedly from hitting friend and Clippers assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, will keep him from playing for several weeks, perhaps until late March, as the Clippers apparently believe. The incident has prompted an NBA investigation that’s likely to result in discipline for Griffin, commissioner Adam Silver told Sam Amick of USA Today.

Western Notes: Griffin, Howard, Carter, Warriors

The Clippers plan to make a concerted effort to look for Blake Griffin trades if they don’t make a long playoff run this spring, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (video link). That’s regardless of whether an opportunity arises to swap Griffin for Kevin Durant, a move the Clippers wouldn’t hesitate to make, according to Wojnarowski. Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers suggested before the season that he would be open to major changes if the team disappointed in the playoffs, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reported, adding that it appears as though Rivers isn’t eager to trade any members of the team’s core before the trade deadline this month. See more from the Western Conference:

  • The Celtics aren’t the only team the Rockets have engaged about Dwight Howard, but it’s unlikely a Howard trade happens this season as Houston isn’t shopping him so much as gauging his market value, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Three executives from around the league told Mannix they wouldn’t approach the max in an offer to Howard in free agency this summer, and an Eastern Conference GM pegged a fair contract for him at three years and $60MM, Mannix relays.
  • Vince Carter plans to play next season, which would be his 18th in the NBA, and while he’s taking a year-by-year approach, he’d like to play 20 seasons, notes Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Carter’s salary of more than $4.264MM for next season is partially guaranteed for $2MM, and fellow Commercial Appeal scribe Chris Herrington suggested recently that the Grizzlies will “almost certainly” waive him this summer and pocket the savings. Still, coach Dave Joerger expressed a fondness for the veteran swingman, as Tillery relays.
  • Executives from other teams know that so much as asking the Warriors about any of the key players on their roster would be ill-advised, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports as he analyzes Golden State’s trade assets.

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