Another day, another change in the Doc Rivers to the Clippers deal, which is now a done deal.
That should teach folks never to pronounce anything dead until rigor mortis sets in (insert your own zombie joke).
From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “The Los Angeles Clippers have reached an agreement in principle to send an unprotected 2015 first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics for the rights to hire coach Doc Rivers, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Rivers has agreed to a three-year, $21 million deal with the Clippers, league sources said. Talks started again on Sunday when the Clippers offered the Celtics the first-round pick to free Rivers from his contract with Boston. The NBA still needs to grant approval to the deal, but the teams have been led to believe that won’t be a problem, sources said. The Clippers and Rivers believe Rivers’ arrival will solidify star free agent Chris Paul’s commitment to sign a five-year contract extension in July, sources said.
This deal is separate from the Garnett talks. Or at least that’s what the team want us and the league to believe. NBA approval still needed
— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) June 23, 2013
And that’s where things get tricky, because if the teams are also trying to swing a Kevin Garnett trade, the league office could veto it.
This is clearly a story that’ll keep the pre-draft period of the upcoming week very interesting.
And then there is the draft itself, with our draft guru Joe Kotoch saying more strongly than ever that Alex Len will be the Cavs’ pick unless they trade the No. 1 selection. Chris Sheridan goes into some more detail in this podcast.
Others are starting to see things the same way.
Alex Len to Cleveland has legs. Cavs are considering him at No. 1. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Vitaly Potapenko among others are pushing for Len.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 23, 2013
The draft is Thursday night and so far only one lottery pick seems settled: Otto Porter to the Wizards, assuming the Georgetown small forward makes it past Cleveland and Orlando with the first two picks. The other near-certainty is that the Mavs will make some moves on draft night, with Shawn Marion a popular name on the trade block and Dallas’ #13 pick also garnering significant interest. Moving Marion and that pick would clear even more cap room for Mark Cuban’s club as they hope to make a big splash in free agency.
There’s plenty of draft talk in today’s blog, but I’d like to go back to Len for a minute. As a Maryland Terrapins fan, I watched just about every game Len played this last year, and while he’s got all the parts needed for a dominant NBA center, he’s still got a ways to go to put them all together, as any Terps fan will tell you. He vastly outplayed Noel when the two shared the court at the Barclays Center in the season opener, but never showed that dominance again, at least not for an entire game. There were stretches (one against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament particularly stands out) where there might as well not have been anyone else on the court for all the effort it took him to throw down dunks and grab every rebound, but in my decidedly non-expert opinion, any team expecting him to be an immediate All-Star might be a little disappointed.
Of course, he was also double-teamed pretty much every minute he was on the court, so maybe going to the NBA, where he won’t be paired across from bigs who range from undersized to raw to just plain not that good, will allow him more freedom. I’d imagine that’s what the Cavs, or whoever ends up taking him high in the first round, are hoping.
Enough of my thoughts, let’s get to the latest news and rumors from all around the NBA.
- With this year’s draft just a few days away, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst turns the clock back a decade to the 2003 draft that changed the landscape of the NBA. Windhorst’s piece is an outstanding oral history and is completely worth the read. Here’s how it starts: “There aren’t many things in professional sports that live up to the hype. The 2003 NBA draft was one of them. Excitement was building for over a year — first among league executives and then among fans — about the new blood on its way. And boy, did the league need it. The NBA was in a recession. With Michael Jordan retired, for good this time, and a scarcity of marketable young stars, fan interest had waned. Outside of the Los Angeles Lakers and their stars, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the league didn’t have many national draws. The 2003 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets were the lowest rated in history, losing more than 50 percent of the audience from just five years earlier when Jordan won his last title with the Bulls. There was a belief, or at least a hope, that a new generation of stars could turn things around, and the 2003 class had several promising candidates. LeBron James was the first high school basketball player whose stardom had already reached to national level thanks to several magazine covers and games broadcast on ESPN before he’d even turned 18 years old. Carmelo Anthony catapulted into the spotlight by leading Syracuse to the national title as just a freshman. A tough Chicago kid named Dwyane Wade also made a name for himself in the same NCAA tournament, leading Marquette to an improbable Final Four run and completing one of the greatest performances in tournament history with a triple-double against Kentucky. It wasn’t just domestic players, either. With Dirk Nowitzki becoming a superstar and Yao Ming a superstar in the making, teams began jetting off across the world to try to find the next international star, and a 17-year-old with bleach-blond hair named Darko Milicic became an obsession for many who did. “When you’ve been around long enough you get to where you know it when you see a potential franchise player,” Miami Heat president Pat Riley said. “We all knew there were several special players in that draft. You could feel it. And we all wanted them.”
- With the Doc talks revived, the Celtics need to assess the future of the roster, and whether that future includes an aging Paul Pierce. Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe writes: “The team also is focusing on the future of Paul Pierce. Come June 30, the Celtics have to buy him out for $5 million or his $15.3 million contract becomes guaranteed. League sources said that while Pierce is 35 and had a poor showing in the Celtics’ final two playoff games, there is better-than-average interest in him on the trade market. Specifically, those sources said, playoff teams that are looking to make a deeper postseason push consider Pierce’s scoring and veteran presence valuable. As for the 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, the Clippers have backed off trying to acquire the All-Star big man for now, a league source said.”
- Bob Finnan of the News-Herald in northern Ohio adds this on the Pierce situation: “The Cavs have likely spoken to the Celtics about small forward Paul Pierce’s availability. The latest rumor is the Cavs offering their two second-round picks for the 35-year-old Pierce. Pierce’s $15.3 million contract for next year would become guaranteed if he’s dealt.”
In the midst of the LAC/BOS trade rumors; the Bucks have began discussions within organization about signing Paul Pierce, via sources.
— Brett Poirier NBA (@BrettNBA) June 23, 2013
- The future is a little brighter for the Heat (though perhaps not as bright as the present). But they still might consider some big moves, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe: “The Lakers and Cavaliers are likely to pursue James if he decides to become a free agent after next season. Wade’s chances of opting out are smaller, and they are even more minuscule for Bosh, who didn’t score in Game 7 of the Finals. He is owed $61 million over the next three seasons. The Heat are likely to determine Bosh’s value on the open market, hoping to acquire a bona fide center. Amazingly, primarily because of James and Wade, the Heat have won consecutive titles without a productive center. But the Indiana series, in which Roy Hibbert controlled the paint like Ray Lewis, exposed Miami’s lack of a post presence. Bosh is not the post player he used to be, especially during his best years in Toronto.”
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