Non-stars who must step up

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
8:27
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When we rolled out Real Plus-Minus last year at ESPN, I quickly realized that the stars of the system weren't the usual super-celebs we all know about, but the glue guys we've always known are important, but never have quite been able to quantify. Of course year-in, year-out RPM leaderboards are dominated by the one-name guys. But sprinkled among all those media darlings were some less-known performers, like Andre Iguodala, Amir Johnson, Anderson Varejao, Nick Collison and DeMarre Carroll.

Players like these make a major impact on the floor by contributing in ways other than scoring, which is typically the category that earns the huge contracts and endorsement deals. Contending teams need role players who effectively fill the gaps left by cornerstone players, and the better a player is at his specialty, the more it's going to help that team.

With that in mind, let's look at three role players from contending teams who won't be the subject of many preseason previews, but will have a major impact in their projected role.

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Before Chris Paul and LeBron James were NBA superstars, they were high school players at the 2003 McDonald's All-American game.

Sources: Joe Ingles to join Clippers

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
4:31
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[+] EnlargeJoe Ingles
Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty ImagesSmall forward Joe Ingles averaged 11.4 points and 3.4 assists per game for Australia at the just-completed FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Australian swingman Joe Ingles has parlayed a fine showing at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup into a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ingles has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Clippers after attracting the interest of several NBA teams with his strong play in Spain, league sources told ESPN.com.

Clippers coach and team president Doc Rivers has signed a number of small forwards in recent months and, sources say, is adding Ingles to the mix in hopes he can help strengthen L.A. at that position.

ESPN.com reported earlier ‎this month that the 6-foot-8 Ingles had emerged as a virtual lock to land in the league this season after strongly considering a jump to the NBA following similar success for Australia at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The Philadelphia 76ers were also among the teams pursuing Ingles, sources said, which was no surprise given that Sixers coach Brett Brown coached Australia at the 2012 Games.


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Clippers forward Blake Griffin stars in a new series of Vizio commercials in which he recites poetry pertaining to his life as an NBA star.

Clippers re-sign Hedo Turkoglu

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
4:45
PM PT

LOS ANGELES -- The Clippers re-signed forward Hedo Turkoglu, the team announced Friday.

Terms were not disclosed but sources said it was a one-year, veteran's minimum contract.

"We are happy to welcome Hedo back to the Clippers," Clippers president of basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers said. "Hedo is a versatile, veteran presence who contributed to the championship culture we are building in Los Angeles."

Turkoglu, 35, appeared in 38 games for the Clippers last season after being signed on January 10. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game.

The signing puts the Clippers roster at 14 players with less than three weeks left before the start of training camp.

The Clippers are also close to finalizing their coaching staff. Former New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson joined Rivers' coaching staff, which lost three assistant coaches this offseason, in July. He is expected to be joined by Sam Cassell, who was let out of his contract with the Washington Wizards last month, and Lawrence Frank, who is still under contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

While Woodson and Cassell have already spent time at the Clippers' training facility, the new coaching staff will not be formally announced until Frank's situation is resolved.


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GM Danny Ferry disciplined by CEO

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
6:16
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks are sticking with general manager Danny Ferry even though the team's new majority owner wants him fired for racially charged comments.

CEO Steve Koonin on Tuesday told the Hawks' flagship radio station that he made the decision to discipline Ferry but allowed him to keep his job managing the team. He did not say what the punishment was, but noted that he relied on a law firm's three-month investigation of Ferry and his description of Luol Deng.

Ferry made the inflammatory comments about Deng in a conference call with the Hawks' ownership group in June when the team pursued Deng as a free agent.

A letter from co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. recommends that Ferry resign or be fired. Gearon cites Ferry telling the ownership group that Deng "has a little African in him."

His June 12 letter to co-owner Bruce Levenson said Ferry went on to say, "Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back."

Added Gearon: "Ferry completed the racial slur by describing the player (and impliedly all persons of African descent) as a two-faced liar and cheat."

Deng, 29, was born in what is now South Sudan. His father moved his family to Egypt and then England. The 10-year NBA veteran is now a British citizen and played for England in the 2012 Olympics.

Deng, like Ferry, also played at Duke.

Koonin said Atlanta law firm Alston and Bird went through 24,000 documents, conducted 19 interviews and read "every email Danny Ferry has ever sent as general manager of the Atlanta Hawks." Koonin said no other negative information on Ferry was found in the probe.

"I took their advice and far exceeded their advice," Koonin said of the undisclosed punishment he imposed on Ferry.

Hawks spokesman Garin Narain said the investigation of Ferry's comments uncovered a racially inflammatory email written two years ago by Levenson. That discovery led to Levenson's announcement Sunday that he will sell his controlling share of the team.

Despite Gearon's desire to remove Ferry, Koonin is standing by him.

"I understand that emotion," Koonin said of Gearon's recommendation. "I certainly understand that emotion. I know people who have said that to me. But if we sentence people based on what everybody wanted, we wouldn't have a justice system.

"I listened to what (the law firm) said because they had done the work ... so that's a decision I'm willing to live with."

Gearon warned Levenson he believed Ferry's comments "could be fatal to the franchise" if made public.

Gearon said he and the other co-owners "were appalled that anyone would make such a racist slur under any circumstance, much less the GM of an NBA franchise on a major conference call."

Gearon declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday and Deng's agent, Ron Shade, did not respond to an interview request.

Ferry apologized Tuesday but said he was only repeating what he had heard about Deng.

"In regards to the insensitive remarks that were used during our due diligence process, I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players," Ferry said in a statement released by the team.

"I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process. Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol, who I reached out to Monday morning."

Koonin has agreed to meet with Atlanta civil rights leaders on Wednesday. The Rev. Markel Hutchins said Monday he asked for the meeting to discuss what he believes is a racist attitude throughout the organization.

In his letter to Levenson, Gearon compared Ferry's remarks to much-publicized racist comments which forced Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers.

"We believe these comments by Ferry were far worse than Sterling's because they were not from a private personal conversation -- they were in a business environment on a business matter in front of a dozen or more people," Gearon wrote. "If Ferry would make such a slur in a semi-public forum, we can only imagine what he has said in smaller groups or to individuals."

Ferry was named the Hawks' general manager in 2012 following two years as vice president of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs


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Clippers to hold training camp in Vegas

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
3:20
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers will hold their training camp on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, the team announced Monday.

The Clippers will travel to Las Vegas on Sept. 29 immediately following their media day at the Clippers Training Facility and will hold all practices at the Mendenhall Center in Las Vegas.

“Getting away for training camp offers our team a unique opportunity to bond and focus solely on basketball as we prepare for the season,” Clippers coach and President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers said. “UNLV has first-class facilities and we are excited about starting the season in Las Vegas.”

The team will hold four sets of two practice sessions per day on Sept. 30 through Oct. 3, with a single practice on Saturday, Oct. 4. The Clippers will open the preseason Oct. 7 at home against the Golden State Warriors.

Future Power Rankings

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
12:23
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Previously:
Sept. '13 | May '13 | Aug '12 | Feb '12 | Mar '11 | Dec '10 | Aug '10 | Mar '10 | Dec '09

The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider's projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

Consider this a convenient way to see the direction in which your favorite team is headed.

Each of the NBA's 30 teams received an overall Future Power Rating of 0 to 100, based on how well we expect each team to perform in the next three seasons.

To determine the Future Power Rating, we rated each team in five categories. (See table at right.)

As you can see, we determined that the most important category is a team's current roster and the future potential of those players -- that category accounts for 50 percent of each team's overall Future Power Rating.

At the same time, we looked at many other factors, such as management, ownership, coaching, a team's spending habits, its cap situation, the reputation of the city and the franchise and what kind of draft picks we expect the team to have in the future.

To rank the 30 teams, we asked ESPN Insider analysts Chad Ford, Amin Elhassan, Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Pelton to rate each team in each category. 

Here are our latest rankings:




The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.

This is the first time in Future Power Rankings' five-year history that the Spurs have ranked No. 1. Winning a championship will do that, and despite the age of San Antonio's three long-tenured stars, the Spurs' short-term future still appears bright. San Antonio brings basically everyone back from last year's roster with exception of reserve center Aron Baynes.

Given the way coach Gregg Popovich has managed his players' minutes, there's reason to believe the Spurs can wring at least one more championship-caliber season out of aging veterans Tim Duncan (38) and Manu Ginobili (37).

Looking ahead, the question of replacing Duncan -- when he decides to head off to retirement -- looms large. San Antonio is counting on Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, 23, developing into the kind of player who can anchor a contending team.

Leonard is likely to sign a long-term extension this fall, the Spurs having already locked up point guard Tony Parker through 2017-18 this summer. San Antonio also will have to re-sign starting guard Danny Green, which will cut into the team's cap flexibility the next two summers.

Still, if there's any management we trust to manage the future, it's the Spurs, who earned a perfect score. Popovich is clearly the league's best coach -- he might be as difficult to replace as Duncan when he decides to retire -- and GM R.C. Buford earned overdue honors as the league's Executive of the Year in 2013-14.

-- Kevin Pelton

(Previous rank: 4)


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Clippers sign Udoh, Roberts

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
11:13
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers signed Ekpe Udoh and wingman Chris-Douglas Roberts, the team announced Wednesday. Sources said the deals are for one-year, veteran’s minimum contracts.

“Chris and Ekpe are two versatile players who bring depth and a strong presence to our team,” Clippers President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers said. “We are excited to add them to the roster.”

Udoh, 26, has been with the Milwaukee Bucks the past three seasons and averaged 3.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 42 games last season, including 14 starts. The 6-foot-10 power forward was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors before being traded to Milwaukee in 2012.

Roberts, 26, signed with the Charlotte Bobcats last December and averaged 6.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 49 games, including eight starts.

The Clippers are also on the verge of re-signing forward Hedo Turkoglu, according to sources.

Turkoglu, 35, signed with the Clippers in January and averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 38 games last season.

The signings will put the Clippers roster at 14 players with about four weeks left before the start of training camp.

Jared Dudley looks forward to Bucks

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
12:38
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[+] EnlargeJared Dudley
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesJared Dudley said he played through a series of nagging knee injuries for the Clippers.

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Looking for a fresh start, Jared Dudley couldn't be happier to have landed with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee acquired the veteran forward last week from the Los Angeles Clippers, who also gave up a conditional first-round draft pick, in exchange for Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Radulijca, both of whom were waived this week.

Dudley is looking to bounce back from a rough season in Los Angeles. He appeared in 74 games, starting 43, and averaged 6.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while shooting 51.8 percent from the field.

The numbers, though, were skewed, Dudley said, because of a series of nagging knee injuries that hampered him throughout the season.

"It was probably the most injury-plagued season I've had," Dudley said Tuesday at the Bucks' training facility. "I was trying to sacrifice myself. I told Coach (Doc) Rivers that I couldn't go, but we had so many injuries he needed me to fight through it.

"I told him I could but I wouldn't be 100 percent. Obviously, my production wasn't as well but I was able to give him a body to cover those minutes. Personally, my numbers suffered but for the team, we were able to get that three-spot covered," Dudley said.


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Trade grades: Terry to Rockets

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
10:41
AM PT

Here's a breakdown of the Rockets-Kings deal:


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[+] EnlargeRay Allen
ChinaFotoPress/Getty ImagesRay Allen, who's being courted by multiple NBA teams, likely won't make a decision on his future until September.

The San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers are the latest elite teams to join the race to sign Ray Allen, league sources told ESPN.com.

The sources told ESPN.com this week that the Spurs and Clippers have emerged as two more rivals for the Cavaliers to worry about as Cleveland continues to try to lure Allen away from the Miami Heat.

Allen announced last month that he's still deciding whether he wants to play what would be his 19th NBA season, but that certainly hasn't done anything to limit interest in the 3-point specialist.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers is a natural Allen recruiter after coaching him in Boston. Despite possessing very limited financial flexibility, the Clippers have only 11 players under contract and certainly could use a shooter of Allen's caliber.


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Clippers waive Carlos Delfino

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
11:39
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers waived Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica just three days after trading for both players, the team announced Friday.

On Tuesday the Clippers traded Jared Dudley and a protected first-round pick in 2017 for Delfino and Raduljica, but it was a move intended to create roster and salary-cap flexibility. Delfino and Raduljica were waived using the stretch provision, freeing up $3.5 million for the Clippers to sign players to veteran's minimum contracts.

The Clippers had until Sunday to waive both players under the provision that will stretch out the remaining salaries of Delfino and Raduljica over five years.

After the moves, the Clippers now have 11 players under contract for next season, two below the league minimum. The Clippers will be bringing in veteran players for workouts, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been in contact with Ray Allen, who is in the process of deciding if he wants to return for a 20th season.

The 39-year-old free agent, who won an NBA title with Rivers while they were in Boston for five seasons, is also being courted by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.


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Shelly Sterling talks Donald, Clips

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
6:20
AM PT
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LOS ANGELES -- When Shelly Sterling was approached by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about buying the Los Angeles Clippers, the wife of disgraced NBA team owner Donald Sterling did not know who he was. But before long she wound up convincing him that the team was worth an unprecedented $2 billion.

In an exclusive interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Shelly Sterling offered details of how she wound up negotiating one of the richest deals in sports after her husband's racist rant to a woman became public, prompting the NBA to ban him for life and decree he give up the team.

At that point, Shelly Sterling stepped in.

"I was given the task and I did it," she said. "I just did what I had to do."

Prospective buyers started lining up and she was interviewing bidders for the team when Ballmer entered the scene. She already had a bid of $1.65 billion from David Geffen and an Egyptian princess was entering the bidding war.

Ballmer called her at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

"He was really enthusiastic," she recalled. "He said I want to come see you immediately."

She put him off until the next day and quickly called a girlfriend to find out who this man was that wanted to buy her team.

"He was a like a little child. He was so excited, so happy," she said of their meeting. "We sort of connected. I felt he would be good for the team."

She said he asked her how much others had offered and then he bid $1.9 billion. But she was not through negotiating.

"I told him: 'You won't have to build an arena or a practice field.' So he was getting a bargain. And I told him, 'We have great players, a great coach and you'll never have the chance to buy a team in Los Angeles again."

After her speech, she recalled "He said, 'O.K. I'll give you two (billion).' He really really wanted the team."


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Doc Rivers' new deal through 2018-19

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
9:11
AM PT
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LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers has agreed to a new deal with the Los Angeles Clippers that will keep him there through the end of the 2018-19 season, the team announced Wednesday.

Rivers, who joined the team last year, will continue to serve as its head coach and president of basketball operations during the duration of the deal.

Rivers' new deal will pay him in excess of $10 million annually, according to multiple sources.

Rivers had two years remaining on the three-year, $21 million deal he signed last year when he came to Los Angeles from the Boston Celtics.

"This is an important day for this organization," Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement. "I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team."

Rivers had told Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons that he was considering leaving the team if Donald Sterling remained its owner. Parsons testified as much during a probate hearing in Los Angeles that eventually paved the way for Sterling's wife, Shelly, to sell the team to Ballmer for $2 billion.

"Steve has shown a clear and determined desire to make the Clippers one of the most elite, first-class and championship organizations in all of professional sports," Rivers said. "We know we have work to do to get there, but I am motivated by the challenge and thankful for the opportunity to stand together with Steve as we continue to move toward our goal of winning an NBA title."


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