Doc Rivers

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.”

 

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Griffin, D-League, Pierce

Coach/executive Doc Rivers identified the Clippers’ offseason priorities during a press conference today, relays Jill Painter Lopez of The Associated Press“We need length,” he said. “We need more length and two-way players. Again, that’s easy to say. Little harder to do with the way our contracts are. We may continue to do what we’ve done or we may decide to change our contracts and have more flexibility.”

The Clippers’ ability to add players will be hampered by their cap status. They are about $10MM over the cap heading into the offseason, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are both expected to exercise early termination options and become free agents. Starting guard J.J. Redick will also be a free agent, and forwards Luc Mbah a Moute [$2.3MM] and Marreese Speights [nearly $1.46MM] both have player options. Rivers expressed hope that the core of the team can be kept together, saying, “I think they deserve a chance to win.”

There’s more Clippers news out of Los Angeles:

  • In the same story, Rivers offered the first medical update on Griffin since his surgery Tuesday on the right big toe that knocked him out of the playoffs. “He’s doing well … The surgery went better than we thought,” Rivers said.
  • Griffin will be the best available free agent on the market this summer, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Ziller notes that Griffin finished third in the 2014 MVP voting and argues that there wouldn’t be speculation about his availability if not for his injury history and the Clippers’ playoff disappointments.
  • A D-League affiliate is “going to happen at some point,” Rivers said today (Twitter link). The Clippers are one of just a handful of NBA teams without a direct affiliate in the D-League, and Rivers said the organization is committed to adding one.
  • Paul Pierce exits the NBA with a wealth of iconic moments, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Sunday’s Game 7 loss to Utah was the final game for the 19-year veteran, who revealed his retirement plans before the season began.

Clippers Rumors: Rivers, Offseason, G. Green

After losing Game 5 at home to the Jazz on Tuesday night, the Clippers will head to Utah down 3-2, on the brink of elimination. And as soon as they’re bounced from the postseason, which could happen as early as Friday, the Clips will face some potentially franchise-altering decisions, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical outlines. According to Wojnarowski, it’s not “realistic” to believe that the Clippers will bring all their key free agents back and go deeper into the luxury tax if they’re ousted in the first round on the heels of another Blake Griffin injury.

While there may be some roster changes coming in Los Angeles, the Clippers are very unlikely to undergo any sort of front office upheaval, per Wojnarowski, who says that Doc Rivers isn’t leaving the club. Rivers has owner Steve Ballmer‘s trust and confidence, and the Clippers like their current front office structure, which includes Lawrence Frank in an executive VP of basketball operations role, Wojnarowski writes.

Still, the Clippers’ brain trust will have a lot to think about if the team’s season comes to an end this weekend. Here’s more on the franchise:

  • Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times breaks down several scenarios for the Clippers’ offseason, suggesting it would be “stunning” if the team were to bring back its entire core after another early postseason exit. In Plaschke’s view, the most likely scenario involves retooling the team around Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, with Griffin and J.J. Redick heading elsewhere.
  • A past roster decision is coming back to haunt Rivers and the Clippers in this year’s postseason, according to James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders, who details the team’s decision to waive Joe Ingles in 2014. The Australian forward caught on with the Jazz shortly after being cut by L.A., and is playing a key role for Utah in these playoffs.
  • Before he signed with the Celtics last summer, Gerald Green appeared to be on the verge of signing with the Clippers, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Sources tell Deveney that the Clips believed they had Green locked up before he ultimately landed with Boston. Green likely wouldn’t have been a postseason difference-maker for Los Angeles, but he did have a big game for the Celtics on Sunday, when he poured in 18 points in Game 4.

Clippers Notes: Griffin, Paul, Redick

Blake Griffin, who was ruled out for the remainder of the postseason with a toe injury, can become a free agent this summer, but he may not have many teams lining up to give him a long-term max deal, Kevin O’ Connor of The Ringer contends. O’Connor details Griffin’s injury history, which includes several ailments on each of his legs, and believes it will cause rival teams to be cautious when making the big man a multi-year offer in free agency. Griffin could always elect not to activate his ETO and stay with the Clippers, though the $21.4MM he would receive in the 2017/18 season is less than the annual salary he’s likely to receive on the open market.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The window to trade Griffin closed over a season ago and the Clippers missed their chance at getting value for him, O’Connor notes in the same piece. The scribe argues that if GM Doc Rivers had pulled the trigger years ago, the team would have much more depth today and players such as Paul Pierce and Raymond Felton wouldn’t be soaking up significant playoff minutes.
  • Chris Paul is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but O’Connor (same piece) wonders if the team should be worried about Paul finding a more attractive option in free agency. He speculates that the Spurs could be a threat should the franchise open up the necessary cap space to give Paul a maximum-salary contract.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today (video link) isn’t sure owner Steve Ballmer is going to sign off on paying luxury tax payments again for a team that doesn’t have a clear path at a championship. In addition to Paul and Griffin searching for max deals this summer, J.J. Redick will be a free agent and Amick estimates that the Duke product will warrant a deal that pays him $18MM per year.

Doc Rivers Hoping To Retain Clippers’ Core

The Clippers are down 1-0 to the Jazz in their first round playoff series, and there has been speculation that if L.A. can’t get by Utah, a significant roster overhaul could be around the corner. However, head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he’d like to keep the Clippers’ core intact, even with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick facing potential unrestricted free agency.

“Here’s my argument to (the question of the roster will be worth going deeper into the tax to keep intact),” Rivers said. “Let’s say we don’t win this year — which I think we will, (but) let’s say we don’t. Do you give up on a 50-win team that has proven that they’re really close, or do you hang in there and keep trying to maybe make changes around (the core)?

“I always use Utah as a great (example). Thank God Karl Malone and (John) Stockton didn’t listen to people, you know what I mean? They fell (in the playoffs), and kept trying and kept trying. And finally, late in their careers, they finally broke through to the Finals. They didn’t win it (all). But you know, that’s the pursuit. I just think it’s so easy to (say), ‘Hey, they should break up,’ from the outside. And I think that’s such an easy opinion.”

As we noted this week, the Clippers were one of two teams to finish the 2016/17 in luxury tax territory, and that was with Paul, Griffin, and Redick on their old deals. The trio combined to earn about $50MM this season, but that number could increase beyond $65MM in 2017/18 for CP3 and Griffin alone, without even taking into consideration a raise for Redick as well. In total, Amick estimates that the Clippers’ team salary could increase to the $140MM range if they bring everyone back, which would mean a tax bill of more than $55MM.

Even though Rivers is the GM in Los Angeles, team owner Steve Ballmer will have the final say on roster moves if they significantly increase the money he’ll owe his players in the coming years, as Amick observes. And if the Clippers don’t make a deep playoff run this spring, there’s no guarantee that Rivers and Ballmer will see eye to eye on the team’s strategy going forward, despite the trust that the franchise’s owner has in his head coach.

A new long-term deal for Paul appears likely, but the Clippers will face some interesting decisions in the next few months, and will be a team worth watching this summer.

Clippers Notes: Austin Rivers, Griffin, Doc Rivers

Austin Rivers is targeting the middle of a first-round playoff series as a realistic return date, relays Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Rivers is sidelined by a left hamstring strain that he suffered Wednesday against Washington. There’s no timetable for him to play again, but the general feeling is that he will be ready sometime in late April. “The goal was game one of the playoffs,” Rivers said, “but it’s looking like hopefully mid first round, early second round. We’ll see. You never know, I might heal faster than I think so. In my mind, my goal is to be back by the first round, for game one or game two, which is ideal. So, we’ll see.” The playoffs will start two weeks from today.

There’s more news out of Los Angeles:

  • After becoming the first player to reach 10,000 points in a Clippers uniform, Blake Griffin wanted to focus more on the postseason than his future in L.A., writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Griffin scored 36 today in a win over the Lakers, then brushed aside questions about free agency. “I’ve loved my time here, absolutely,” he said. “But my main focus right now is the season. I said this before the season, I’m not doing the whole free agency talk. I’m not talking about any decision I can’t make right now. Like I said, my main focus is getting this team right and moving forward and being right heading into the playoffs.”
  • Also reaching a milestone today was coach Doc Rivers, who posted his 800th career victory, Oram notes in the same story. Those wins have come over 18 seasons with the Magic, Celtics and Clippers. “I’ve learned everything is a big deal,” Rivers said, “but you don’t have to sweat it all.”
  • The Clippers are just 33-29 after a 14-2 start and there is concern that the core could be broken up this summer, writes Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. With Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick all headed toward free agency, Plaschke thinks a significant playoff run will be needed to justify keeping the team together.
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