Blake Griffin

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers’ Job Seems Safe

Clippers coach Doc Rivers will likely hold onto his job the remainder of the season, multiple sources told USA Today’s Sam Amick. Owner Steve Ballmer feels the team’s rash of injuries has made it difficult to judge Rivers’ performance this season, Amick continues. The team’s top player, power forward Blake Griffin, is out at least a month with an MCL sprain. Point guard Patrick Beverley underwent season-ending knee surgery, while newcomers Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari have barely played because of ailments. “You’ve just got to hang in there,” Rivers told Amick. “People get down on the team. They get down on you. They get down on everybody. That’s what happens, and you can’t waver. You’ve just got to keep doing your job, and the players have to just keep playing.”

Other notable items from Amick’s story:

  • The club is taking calls on center DeAndre Jordan but not actively shopping him. Jordan is expected to opt of the final year of his contract next summer, leaving $24.1MM on the table. The front office believes it can re-sign him, so they’re asking price for any potential deal is high. The market could heat up on December 15th, when many players who signed new contracts last summer are eligible to be dealt. Jordan hired an agent on Monday, which could facilitate trade talks.
  • The team remains committed to building around Griffin, who re-signed with them over the summer. Griffin doesn’t have an opt-out on his massive five-year, $171.1MM deal until the summer of 2021.
  • Productive role players, such as guard Lou Williams, could be dealt for draft picks. The team still has its first-rounder in June but dealt away its 2019 pick.

Pacific Notes: Chriss, Bodganovic, Griffin

After gaining an undisclosed but noticeable amount of weight over the summer, Suns sophomore Marquese Chriss is intent on getting back into the same impressive shape he was in last year as a rookie, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes.

The 20-year-old, averaging just 6.3 points per game in what could have been a breakout campaign with the Suns, said that he felt invincible coming out of college, giving little to no thought about his diet. Chriss realizes now that things change.

You’re on a limited budget in college but all of a sudden I had nothing but free time and money,” Chriss said, now eager to get to a point where he can play 35 minutes a night if the Suns need it. “I needed to learn how to manage. I needed to grow up in that aspect of my life so I’m grateful that it happened sooner rather than later.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The knee injury that Clippers forward Blake Griffin sustained is more commonly seen in football players (think linemen falling into running backs), Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register writes. Fortunately, a doctor that the scribe consulted says things could have been a lot worse than they ended up being. MCL tears, Teaford writes, tend to require less rehabilitation than ACL tears, which control front and back movement.
  • The Lakers may have lost to Golden State in their Wednesday night tilt this week but Sam Amick of USA Today writes that the young team did an excellent job showcasing their appeal to future free agents.
  • Draft-and-stash rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic is getting accustomed to life with the Kings and settling into life in the U.S. The 25-year-old tells Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee that he thinks he can be a better player in the NBA than he was in Europe.

Blake Griffin Sprains MCL, May Miss Two Months

2:15pm: The Clippers have now confirmed Griffin’s sprained MCL, announcing in a press release that he didn’t sustain any structural damage in his left knee. However, the team’s announcement indicated that recovery for this specific injury can take up to about eight weeks (Twitter link via David Aldridge). That’s in line with a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that Griffin’s recovery could take two months.Blake Griffin vertical

2:03pm: The Clippers fear that Griffin could be sidelined for at least the next month, per Sam Amick of USA Today.

1:38pm: Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL after leaving Monday night’s game with a left knee injury, a source tells David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times first reported earlier today that the Clippers suspected an MCL sprain. According to Aldridge, Griffin will be out for “a while.”

The Clippers have yet to confirm the diagnosis or to announce a recovery timetable for Griffin, but Aldridge suggests the team is relieved that the news wasn’t worse. Griffin sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Monday’s win over the Lakers when he got entangled with Austin Rivers and Lonzo Ball, and it didn’t look good at first glance, with the big man’s knee bending awkwardly as he fell to the floor.

A long-term injury for Griffin, in the wake of a season-ending knee issue for point guard Patrick Beverley, would have been devastating for the Clippers, who have also been without Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari for much of the season. The club entered the season expecting to earn a playoff spot, but dropped nine games in a row this month and currently sits in the lottery at 8-11.

We’ll wait for official word from the Clippers on Griffin’s injury before speculating about what it might mean for the rest of the team’s season. However, if the five-time All-Star misses several weeks and the Clips fall further out of postseason contention, this will be a franchise worth keeping an eye on. DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams are among the veterans on track for 2018 free agency who would have value on the trade market, and Doc Rivers‘ future in L.A. would be uncertain if the team rebuilds – or even just retools – its roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Blake Griffin Being Evaluated After Injuring Knee

After Blake Griffin left Monday night’s game against the Lakers in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury, the Clippers are hoping for the best, writes Kevin Arnovitz of Griffin, who suffered the injury after getting tangled up with Lonzo Ball and Austin Rivers, will undergo evaluations on Tuesday to diagnosis the issue.

Acknowledging that Griffin’s injury “didn’t look good,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said last night that the team is taking a wait-and-see approach while it waits for the results of Tuesday’s evaluation. Rivers is hopeful that it won’t be a long-term issue.

“I think it’s hyperextended,” Rivers said of Griffin’s knee, per Mark Whicker of The Los Angeles Daily News. “I hope it’s hyperextended. I hope that’s all it is, because if it is, he might miss a game or two. I hope it’s not worse. That’s the last thing we need, missing that guy.”

While Rivers is staying positive, there’s some fear that Griffin suffered a sprained MCL and will miss a significant period of time, tweets Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. As Turner notes, the team will have a better sense of the extent of the injury after today’s tests.

Griffin, who signed a new five-year, $171MM+ contract with L.A. back in July, has been plagued by left knee and leg injuries throughout his career, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer details (via Twitter). The former first overall pick hasn’t played more than 67 games in a regular season since the 2013/14 campaign.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have also been hit hard by injuries so far in 2017/18, with Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari missing time and Patrick Beverley undergoing a knee procedure that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Los Angeles has bounced back from a nine-game losing streak to win its last three games, but a long-term injury to Griffin would make it extremely difficult for the club to earn a playoff spot.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Durant, Triano

The Clippers have struggled to get reliable production from the point this season, largely because Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley have been sidelined extensively and Austin Rivers is better suited to play the role of combo guard. Stepping up as a playmaker then, has been power forward Blake Griffin. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that Griffin has manned the point not unlike standout rookie Ben Simmons has to much fanfare.

Not only do guards on the roster consciously look to feed Griffin the ball to bring up the court, the 28-year-old has done well to create offense when he gets it. Through 18 games this season, Griffin leads the Clippers with 5.0 assists per game, all while posting his highest scoring average in five years and chipping in 7.7 rebounds per contest for good measure.

He’s always been able to handle the ball and he’s always been a real Mack truck coming down the floor in transition with the ball,” division rival Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “If he gets a rebound and he’s breaking out, he’s hard and it’s difficult to guard.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The young Suns are learning first-hand just how much head coaching matters in the NBA, Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic writes. After replacing Earl Watson following a disastrous first three games to start the season, Jay Triano has guided Phoenix to a 7-10 record.
  • The Warriors may have prematurely allowed Kevin Durant to suit up on an injured ankle, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes. The forward sprained his ankle last weekend but played in Wednesday night’s marquee matchup with the Thunder, something head coach Steve Kerr now regrets. “I’m sure the league is happy with us because we played him on their ‘marquee’ game with and all that stuff. But he came out sore the next day. So we shouldn’t have played him,” Kerr said.
  • Well-suited for his elder statesmen role on the Warriors bench, David West has made an impact with his veteran leadership, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t speak unless it’s necessary. He understands when it’s necessary,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s not doing it to hear himself talk. He’s not one of those guys. He’s doing it to impart some knowledge and wisdom. So he picks his spots wisely.”

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Deng, Looney, Kings

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were the Clippers‘ leaders for years, but the two stars weren’t always on the same page, and Austin Rivers acknowledges that the dynamic between the two players was “weird,” as Lee Jenkins of relays.

“I don’t know why. It was just strange,” Rivers said. “No one knew who the leader was, and if you had something to say, it would turn into an argument. I think people were sometimes scared to say something to Blake, because you didn’t know how he’d react. [Now] he’s a whole different person, more approachable, and I think it’s because we’ve embraced him. We know who our leader is. We’re all-in with Blake Griffin.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific division:

  • While the Lakers and Luol Deng are both open to getting a trade or buyout done, actually completing a deal will be difficult, according to Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. The trade market for Deng is “non-existent,” a source tells Oram, and unless the Lakers can convince the veteran forward to give back a significant chunk of money, there’s little incentive for the team to release him.
  • After having his 2018/19 option declined by the Warriors, Kevon Looney admits that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, and says he isn’t stressed about it. Logan Murdock of The Bay Area News Group has the details, along with the quotes from Looney.
  • The Kings have multiple young prospects capable of playing center, including starter Willie Cauley-Stein, but the team has performed well when veteran Zach Randolph shifts to the five. As Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, it will be interesting to see whether Sacramento continues to focus on developing their youngsters and only uses Randolph as an “emergency” option at the center, or if he’ll start to play more consistent minutes at the five.

Clippers Notes: Offseason Moves, Jordan, Redick

When Chris Paul was set to leave the Clippers this offseason, letting Blake Griffin walk as well and bottoming out as part of a rebuild would have been one option for the club, but it wasn’t one that management seriously considered, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN. Without all their future draft picks in hand, the Clippers weren’t well positioned for a rebuild, and the idea went against owner Steve Ballmer‘s philosophy for the franchise.

“You consider all your options,” Ballmer said. “But I don’t want to lose. I like winning. Winning is good. Losing is bad. We think we have a unique opportunity to be a free-agent destination. If you want that, you have to be doing your best every year.”

Lowe’s deep dive into the Clippers includes several more noteworthy tidbits and is worth reading in full. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • DeAndre Jordan‘s future looms large for the Clippers, since he’s eligible for free agency next summer. According to Lowe, Los Angeles has explored trading Jordan, but the only time the team “gained semiserious traction” on anything was at the 2017 deadline. That proposed deal would have sent Jordan to the Rockets in exchange for Clint Capela, players, and picks.
  • The Clippers have discussed a possible contract extension with Jordan, but those talks have stalled for now, says Lowe. Jordan, who is currently negotiating without an agent, remains extension-eligible all the way up until June 30, but would be eligible for a bigger payday if he becomes a free agent next July.
  • Although the Clippers weren’t looking to part ways with Paul this offseason, they embraced the opportunity for a “fresh start” when he decided to leave. Players say the culture wasn’t as toxic as it may have seemed, but Doc Rivers acknowledges – without referring specifically to CP3 – “don’t want to be coached by you anymore.”
  • Rivers suggests that J.J. Redick was “begging to come back” to the Clippers as a free agent, a claim that Redick disputes. “There was never any indication from my agent that I wanted to go back,” Redick said to Lowe. “I didn’t beg to come back. I didn’t want to come back.”
  • Rivers also disputed reports that the Clippers could have traded Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford for Carmelo Anthony earlier this year, calling that idea a “complete joke.” However, Lowe suggests that Rivers may be playing a “game of semantics,” noting that such a package could have been viable if Crawford was sent to a third team instead of New York.

Clippers Notes: Griffin, Teodosic, Backcourt, Defense

Blake Griffin credits NBA legend Jerry West with influencing his decision to remain with the Clippers, writes Shams Charania of The Vertical. Griffin opted out of his contract over the summer, but elected to re-sign with L.A. before talking to any other teams. The new five-year deal, coupled with the trade of Chris Paul, makes Griffin the team’s clear on-court leader.

Griffin was “captivated” by West’s presence at a meeting just before the July 1 start of free agency, according to Charania. The Hall of Famer left the Warriors after last season and joined the Clippers as a special consultant.

“Jerry had a major voice to me, and he’s had an influence in coming and working on the culture here,” Griffin said. “This franchise had unfinished business, and I had unfinished business here. We had unfinished business together and I valued that. We laid it out there that no matter what was going on around us, both sides hadn’t accomplished what we set out for. I couldn’t abandon this now.”

There’s more Clippers news out of Los Angeles:

  • Coach Doc Rivers offered a health update today on Milos Teodosic, saying he was able to ride a stationary bike but there’s no timetable for him to play again, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Teodosic is out indefinitely after leaving last Saturday’s game with a plantar fascia injury.
  • Rivers is trying not to overtax his backcourt with the loss of Teodosic, relays Elliott Teaford of The Orange County Register. The Clippers have just three healthy, experienced guards currently available, and Rivers admits he has been asking them to do too much. “Too many minutes,” he said after this week’s win over Utah. “I didn’t like the minutes. That’ll change. It’s just got to expand it. What we’ve got to figure out is giving Patrick [Beverley] and Austin [Rivers] rest, playing Lou [Williams] and Sindarius [Thornwell], but making sure we have Blake or [Danilo Gallinari] with them.”
  • One key to the Clippers’ 4-0 start has been a significant improvement on defense, Turner writes in an L.A. Times story. The addition of Beverley, who was acquired from Houston in the Chris Paul trade, provides defensive pressure in the backcourt and shot-blocker DeAndre Jordan erases mistakes in the middle. “They want to play ‘D’, which is nice,” Rivers said. “I think they all are on the same page. We have DJ at the basket and Pat on the ball. That’s a great combination.”

Pacific Notes: Green, Kings, Clippers

The results from Draymond Green‘s MRI have come back negative, Chris Haynes of ESPN writes. The Warriors forward injured his knee in Tuesday’s season opener, missing the entire fourth quarter.

While it’s likely Green misses time as a result of the injury that had him limping in the team’s first game, the good news for the Warriors is that there was no structural damage that would necessitate a longer absence.

In 76 games for the Warriors last season, Green averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists. If Golden State is going to survive an even stronger Western Conference than last year’s they’ll need to do it at full health.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Pacific Notes: Clippers, West, Reed

The Clippers were punished by injuries during preseason but regardless of the short-staffed lineups there were observations to be taken away, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. For one, star player Blake Griffin‘s toe appears to have held up despite his having undergone surgery for it in May.

I haven’t had any problems,” Griffin said. “I haven’t sat out any practices. I haven’t had any restrictions. I didn’t really anticipate that. At the beginning of the season, I met with probably four of the top foot surgeons in the United States and I never anticipated sitting out [Clippers] training camp.

Other takeaways from the exhibitions include Milos Teodosic making an immediate impact with his playmaking abilities and Lou Williams seamlessly adopting the sixth man role vacated by Jamal Crawford.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings‘ rebuild is progressing well for a number of different reasons but one of the most obvious is the fact that they have two first-year players in the race for the Rookie of the Year award. By Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee‘s count, both De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic are legitimate contenders for the year-end hardware.
  • The reason Jerry West left his executive role with the Warriors to join up with the Clippers‘ front office is because he would have had to take a pay cut in the realm of $1MM. Daniel Mano of the Mercury News cites an excerpt from Jack McCallum’s book on California basketball.
  • Offseason Clippers addition Willie Reed can have his misdemeanor domestic battery charge dismissed if he agrees to a diversion program, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.
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