Doc Rivers

Pacific Notes: Curry, Rivers, Bledsoe

Five years ago, Stephen Curry signed a four-year, $44MM extension with the Warriors. Two NBA Most Valuable Player awards and two NBA championships later, that contract turned out to be a mammoth bargain. However, when Curry originally signed the deal on Halloween 2012, the risk was all on the Warriors, Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic writes.

Before Curry’s mantle was stuffed with MVP trophies and NBA championship rings, he was known as a potentially prolific shooter with troublesome ankles. He missed 56 games with ankle injuries in 2011/12 and tweaked his ankle once again during the 2012/13 preseason. However, before Curry and his representation agreed to the $44MM extension, the Warriors told Curry’s agent Jeff Austin that the team would be willing to offer a max deal in free agency that summer.

“They said if he was healthy at the end of the season, they set aside the max money for him,” Austin said. “The Warriors were terrific the whole process. They told him if he could stay healthy, he would get the max.”

Curry’s team-friendly deal paved the way for Golden State to add players such as Andre Iguodala and last season, Kevin Durant. It also allowed the team the financial flexibility to retain Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Warriors signed Curry to a supermax deal worth over $201MM this offseason and the team is primed to reach their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.

Below you can find other news from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is not a fan of the NBA’s advanced statistics, most notably pace, Elliot Teaford of The Orange County Register writes. There seems to be a discrepancy in Rivers’ interpretation of pace (having players move efficiently on the court) versus the NBA’s definition (number of possessions per game).
  • John Wall understands the predicament his former Kentucky teammate, Eric Bledsoe, is in with the Suns, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. “Eric’s situation was that they had some great pieces and some great teams. [Markieff Morris] was with him over there. They had a season where they almost made the playoffs with 48 wins and they didn’t make it.” Wall said. “He’s going into his eighth year and he hasn’t made the playoffs [since 2013]. The team is getting younger and younger and he wants to get out of there and get to a team where he can make the playoffs.”

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:

Central Notes: Pistons, SVG, Bullock, Bucks, Kidd

In the wake of Clippers head coach Doc Rivers surrendering his front office power, Tom Ziller of SB Nation writes that Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy should do the same.

In the piece, Ziller praises Rivers for giving up the power of possessing dual roles as someone who has been so famous and successful. Rivers quietly accepted a demotion and seems to have handled the transition in stride. Earlier this offseason, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was also stripped of his front office power with the team installing GM Travis Schlenk above him in the decision-making hierarchy.

Ziller goes on to write that Van Gundy’s 2016/17 team was extremely disappointing and comprised mostly Van Gundy acquisitions. SVG previously traded for Reggie Jackson and paid him a tremendous amount and drafted Stanley Johnson in the lottery. Both players have been monumental disappointments. Ziller argues that while Van Gundy is a talented coach, “someone else needs to be in the seat of power when it comes to roster.”

Here’s what else you should know from the Central division:

  • Pistons wing Stanley Johnson, who underwhelmed in 2016/17, lies at the heart of SVG’s vision for the team to be elite on defense, writes Keith Langois of NBA.com. Detroit spent most of last season as a top-10 defensive squad before finishing the season at No. 11. Van Gundy said: “I think now we have a chance to become an elite defensive team and Stanley’s a huge part of that. And then I think it’s for him to really find his offensive game and it takes some guys some time. Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, his primary role will be to guard the best forward or a big two guard every night. Avery (Bradley) will take on the challenge of guarding the best guard every night and then Andre (Drummond) will take on more responsibility as a defender and that’s our way to becoming an elite defensive team.”
  • The Pistons will feature Reggie Bullock for a more prominent role this upcoming season, Ansar Khan of MLive.com writes. In limited minutes in two seasons, Bullock has been the team’s best deep shooter, drilling 39.7% of his three-point attempts. Van Gundy is also high on Bullock for other reasons: “A lot of people focus on Reggie’s shooting, which is very good, but to me it’s more the way he plays the game. The ball moves when he’s out there, he makes quick decisions, he moves very well without the ball, he helps other people play well. And at the other end he defends, so he’s a two-way player who helps your team function at both ends of the floor. We’re looking forward to having Reggie back, healthier than he’s been, hopefully, and available for a lot more action because he has helped us play very well.”
  • The pressure is on for head coach Jason Kidd and his Bucks, writes James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. With many Eastern Conference teams taking significant steps backward this offseason, the athletic and upstart Bucks carry lofty expectations entering the 2017/18 season. For a detailed look at why so much is expected of Kidd and the Bucks this coming season, I highly recommend reading Blancarte’s piece.

L.A. Notes: Rivers, Clippers, Maggette, Lakers

After Friday’s announcement that Doc Rivers will surrender his front office role to solely focus on coaching, it was the crescendo to a tumultuous dual role for the NBA champion coach, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes.

Rivers, for four seasons, was tasked with both assembling a quality roster and then leading it to success on the court. As Oram writes, despite winning 50+ games each year with Rivers at the helm, the Clippers failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs. So, while Rivers is often viewed as one of the NBA’s elite head coaches, his career in the front office is “spotty,” Oram adds.

“Given final say on personnel moves, something Rivers coveted and chased all the way across the country to L.A., the career coach struggled annually to find the right mix of role players,” Oram writes about the man who led the 2007/08 Celtics to the NBA championship.

Despite the controversy that came with it, Rivers’ acquisition of his son, Austin Rivers, was a good move that yielded a quality role player for a team filled with superstar talent. Besides that, the obvious turmoil within the team became obvious, highlight by notable departures of J.J. Redick and Chris Paul this offseason. While Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan remain with the team, the direction of the Clippers with Lawrence Frank assuming Rivers’ former role and it will take a while before a prognosis on that move is available.

Read more about news surrounding the Los Angeles teams:

Lawrence Frank Replaces Doc Rivers As Head Of Clippers’ Basketball Ops

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers will no longer oversee the team’s basketball operations, owner Steve Ballmer tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, Clippers executive VP of basketball operations Lawrence Frank will assume control of the club’s basketball ops going forward.

Although Rivers will continue to have a “strong voice” in personnel and basketball matters, and will work closely with Frank, he’ll no longer have the title of president of basketball operations, and will instead focus primarily on coaching, as Wojnarowski details. Both Frank and Rivers will report directly to Ballmer. Rivers confirmed his re-assignment and endorsed the decision, as Bill Oram of The So Cal News Group tweets.

“I’ve owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner’s responsibility is — and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs,” Ballmer told Wojnarowski. “The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn’t the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent minded people.”

This is the second time this offseason that a team has removed a president of basketball operations title from its head coach, assigning those duties to someone else. The Hawks did the same thing with Mike Budenholzer before hiring Travis Schlenk to run the front office. With Budenholzer and Rivers focused on coaching again, only Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, and Tom Thibodeau hold dual roles as head coach and president of basketball ops for their respective clubs.

For Frank, it represents another step forward in what has become an interesting career path. A longtime assistant coach and head coach, Frank transitioned into a front office role with the Clippers last year, handling day-to-day operations for the franchise. He was impressive enough in that capacity that he’ll be charged with overseeing the entire department now, though Rivers – and presumably consultant Jerry West – will remain involved in the process.

“There are different relationships that a player needs to have with the coach and the front office,” Ballmer said. “Doc put Lawrence in charge of the non-coaching aspects of the front office last year, and he’s done a fantastic job. I want each of them to dig in and do what they do best. Lawrence has come on so strong in that role, and that has helped us go down this path.”

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Clippers, Paul

No stranger to the spotlight, Josh Jackson thrived with all eyes watching how he would fare in his first summer league. In his first five games in Las Vegas, the No. 4 overall pick flourished for the Suns, Andrew Vailliencourt of The Republic writes.

Suns summer league coach Marion Garnett sees Jackson’s desire to lead the team and recognizes that it will likely be a factor when he joins the rest of his team in Phoenix.

He has it in him,” Garnett said. “It’s kind of what he’s wired with, to be the lead dog. I don’t know how that dynamic is going to play out with our regular [Suns] group, but he does have it in him.”

In five games with the Suns’ summer league squad, Jackson posted 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors have had a successful offseason, at least in the eyes of head coach Steve Kerr. Anthony Slater of the Mercury News recently caught up with the bench boss. “Happy for Steph that he got paid,” Kerr said. “Happy for Andre that he was rewarded for what he’s done here and I think he’s got gas left in the tank. KD facilitated a lot of that.
  • The Clippers‘ move to add Danilo Gallinari could be indicative of the strategy Doc Rivers plans to take in 2017/18. “Losing Chris Paul is tough because he is a great player,” Rivers told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. “But we have a lot of great players on our team that play so many different ways. That is why ‘Gallo’ is so important to us, because our thought was that if you’re not going to run a point guard-dominated offense, then you’ve got to run a movement offense with versatility.
  • After an injury plagued few seasons, Doc Rivers believes the Clippers‘ success was too dependent on the health of Chris Paul, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register writes.

West Notes: Cash Considerations, Dudley, Zhou

As the smoke clears from the chaos of the Chris Paul trade, details have emerged regarding the numerous side deals that went down in order for the Rockets to acquire the superstar point guard from the Clippers.

We broke down the math behind the trades but Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has provided insight as to the exact financial details of the deals that brought players on non-guaranteed deals to the Rockets in exchange for cash considerations.

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Veteran Suns forward Jared Dudley underwent surgery to repair a lingering toe issue and will be sidelined 3-4 months, ESPN relays.
  • Although he’s justifiably upset about the end of Lob City, Doc Rivers isn’t ready to give up competing for a title. “That part is over. And that bugs me,” Rivers told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. “But we’re not done trying to reach our goal. Sometimes you gotta do it a different way. Because the way we tried to do it didn’t work.”
  • The Nuggets will get a good idea of where they stand in the eyes of free agents this summer, Chris Dempsey of  Altitude Sports writes. The scribe asks whether Nikola Jokic‘s breakout campaign will be enough of a foundation for the club to recruit off of.
  • The Rockets could look to sign Zhou Qi to a multiyear deal by using a portion of their mid-level exception, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes, but they wouldn’t be opposed to siging him to a shorter deal if that meant landing another coveted free agent.

Los Angeles Notes: Rivers, Jordan, Lopez, Simon

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers is denying a report that an ongoing feud between his son, Austin, and Chris Paul led to Paul’s trade to Houston today, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. In a series of tweets, Doc Rivers thanked Paul for his years of service and called his departure a “big loss” for the team. He also said there have been rumors floating around that Paul was clashing with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as well as Austin Rivers.

“We’ve heard all the stories about Blake and DJ and Austin,” Doc Rivers said (Twitter link). “I can’t comment just on Austin because it’s just not right. We’ve heard he left because of all three today (Twitter link). There is a lot of speculation on why he left. The one thing I know is he didn’t leave because of any of those three guys (Twitter link). He left because he felt like he would have a better chance to win somewhere else.” (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers may re-examine the idea of trading Jordan now that Paul is gone, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Jordan and Griffin are something of an awkward pairing with both preferring to play near the basket, and Lowe suggests that the problem will worsen without an elite point guard on the floor. L.A.’s front office took several calls about Jordan last week and may decide to move him if the organization is headed toward a rebuilding project. Jordan has a player option worth a little more than $24MM for 2018/19.
  • The Lakers‘ trade for Brook Lopez last week was about more than just cap relief, relays Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Lopez, who grew up in North Hollywood, was acquired from the Nets along with the 27th pick in the draft in exchange for D’Angelo Russell and the three years and $48MM left on Timofey Mozgov‘s contract. “A lot of those emotions turned into general excitement with this opportunity to come back home and chance to lead the franchise back to success,” Lopez said today as he met the L.A. media. “I want to be out there teaching the young guys and being a guy that [coach] Luke [Walton] can rely on and do whatever he asks.”
  • Despite talk that the Lakers will save their big free agency moves for next summer, new GM Rob Pelinka told Medina that he wants to contend right away (Twitter link). “We don’t see next year at all as a rebuilding year,” Pelinka said. “We see next year as a Lakers year.”
  • Miles Simon has been added to the Lakers‘ coaching staff, the team announced on its website. The Most Outstanding Player of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Simon has recent coaching experience with USA Basketball, capturing gold medals at several junior levels.

Latest On The Chris Paul Trade

Chris Paul‘s departure from the Clippers today severed a relationship that began to fall apart when the team acquired Austin Rivers in 2015, according to a Facebook post from Michael Eaves of ESPN. Several Clippers believed Rivers brought an entitled attitude to the team because he is the son of coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers. Veterans didn’t think Austin Rivers tried hard enough to fit in, which created dissension in the locker room. Paul, in particular, thought that Austin Rivers got preferential treatment from his father.

The situation reportedly reached a breaking point prior to the trade deadline when the Knicks offered Carmelo Anthony and Sasha Vujacic to L.A. in exchange for Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers. Doc Rivers blocked the deal, which led Paul to believe that coaching his son was more important than winning, with an unidentified league executive saying, “Chris despises Doc.”

There’s more fallout from today’s blockbuster trade:

  • The decision to opt in for the final year of his contract gives Paul more flexibility if he wants to team up with LeBron James next summer, Eaves notes in the same post. He mentions the Rockets, Lakers and possibly the Clippers, if Doc Rivers is gone, as potential destinations for that to happen. In the meantime, Paul can see how well his game meshes with James Harden‘s and gets a financial windfall because Texas doesn’t have a state income tax.
  • Austin Rivers denied on Twitter that he had anything to do with Paul’s desire to leave. “These false rumors are comedy…so fictional it’s actually amusing! People will say or do anything to get attention,” he posted. He concluded the message with “A lot of clowns out there,” using two clown emoji symbols.
  • The Clippers were concerned about the later years of Paul’s next contract, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. A five-year deal in excess of $200MM would have paid Paul nearly $45MM at age 37, and L.A. wasn’t willing to make that commitment.
  • Newly hired Clippers consultant Jerry West didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting with Paul, according to Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1 (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets would have preferred to clear cap space by trading Ryan Anderson, but there wasn’t much of a market available, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Two teams that were interested asked for two first-round picks in exchange for taking the three years and $60MM left on Anderson’s contract.
  • Trading for Paul before July 1st will allow the Rockets to enter free agency over the salary cap, Lowe adds, giving them access to a full midlevel exception worth more than $8MM and a biannual exception topping $3MM.
  • The Rockets will continue to pursue other stars, but probably can’t offer Trevor Ariza in any deal, according to Lowe. Paul remains close with his former teammate in New Orleans, and the chance to reunite played a decision in Paul’s decision to pick Houston. The Clippers, Lowe relays, had made several attempts to obtain Ariza.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey credits Harden for making today’s trade happen. In a video posted by Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston, Morey says the Rockets now have the two best playmakers in the league.

Pacific Notes: Redick, Hield, Lakers, Clippers

J.J. Redick has been a prolific scorer during his four-year stint with the Clippers, being a key cog in the team’s journey to four straight playoff appearances. However, with the sharpshooter set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, it may be time to move on,

Redick enjoyed another strong season in Los Angeles, averaging 15.0 PPG while still shooting an astounding .429 percent from beyond the arc. But there have noticeable differences in Redick’s output, especially during the postseason. As Blancarte points out, issues creating space have caused Redick to take lower percentage shots — his three-point shooting percentage has fallen each postseason since 2013 and this year, he attempted just 3.7 treys during the Clippers’ seven-game series against the Jazz.

Also, despite being an above average defender, Blancarte writes that “Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward were simply too big and too skilled for Redick to handle defensively.” Redick will be 33 when he inks a new deal and there has been speculation of him joining the Knicks, potentially in a sign-and-trade scenario involving Carmelo Anthony, Marc Berman of the New York Post previously detailed. With four years and four early exits in the playoffs with the Clippers current core, it could be time for all parties to move on.

Here is some more news coming out of the Atlantic division:

  • The Hawks recently readjusted Mike Budenholzer’s role, taking him out of the team president position so he can focus solely on coaching. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller believes the Clippers should do the same with Doc Rivers. While Rivers is a well-regarded coach, the Clippers are at a crossroads following another early playoff exit and Ziller believes GM Rivers is not as effective as coach Rivers — especially given the team’s aforementioned core not yielding championship results.
  • Buddy Hield experienced a rejuvenation after he was sent from the Pelicans to the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade several months ago. As Benedict Tagle of NBA.com writes, Hield increased his production from 8.6 PPG and 2.9 RPG to 15.1 PPG and 4.1 RPG per game in Sacramento. The sixth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft now understands how he can make additional strides.“I need a lot of things, this summer is great for me because next year it will show how big of a jump I can make,” Hield told NBC Sports California. “After that, we build off of that. Just keep building. I’m never going to take a step back.”
  • In a lengthy piece, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus examines how a Lakers team that has completely restructured its front office plans to tackle this offseason and beyond. The team will divide its focus into four tiers of scouting: College, international, NBA and the NBA Development League.“We don’t have to really change the way we have done the draft,” an anonymous source said to Pincus in regards to the team’s strategy. “In terms of everything else, I feel we have areas to improve, especially in free-agent acquisitions…we just have to be precise and efficient in every area.”

 

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