Monday, June 24, 2013
First Cup: Monday
By Nick Borges
- Bob Keisser of the Los Angeles Daily News: Step aside, Kobe Bryant. You no longer are the NBA star with the most juice in Los Angeles. That title goes to Chris Paul, the Clippers guard who exercised his will, and his opportunity, to play elsewhere to get the Clippers to land Doc Rivers as their coach. The Clippers sent Boston a future first-round pick to allow Rivers out of his Celtics contract. Anyone who says a first-round pick is too much for a coach is forgetting it's a two-for-one deal. If the Clippers don't get Rivers, Paul likely leaves and the franchise's hope of playing for an NBA title leaves with him. It didn't take someone with perfect vision to know Paul and former coach Vinny Del Negro weren't a good fit, and once the Clippers folded in the first round Del Negro was gone. But keeping Paul required more than Bryan Shaw (no head coaching experience), Byron Scott (fired three times) or Lionel Hollins (fired last month). On paper, all the Clippers need is a coach with a clue. They had a 10-deep roster when everyone was healthy and four young players a team can build around for the future.
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: As he followed the troubling tango between the Celtics and Clippers, Jan Volk had a reaction that was both intellectual and visceral. He’d seen this move before. He’d lived this movie. “It gives me flashbacks to the negotiation style, flashbacks to a frustrating time,” said Volk, who worked 26 years for the Celts, much of that as general manager. The time to which he speaks is the summer of 1985 when it took some three months for the Celtics to negotiate and execute a trade with Donald T. Sterling’s team that would net them Bill Walton for Cedric Maxwell and a No. 1 draft pick. “The process started in June after the Finals, within a week after we lost (on June 9, falling to the Lakers in six games), and it went through Labor Day or a day or two after that,” said Volk of the deal that was announced on the Friday after the holiday. So while Danny Ainge has had difficulty dealing with a process that has taken something less than two weeks to this point — although it finally produced an agreement in principle yesterday with coach Doc Rivers going to the Clippers for a first-round pick — it can be fair to assume the Celtics president of basketball operations will not have to go through the endurance test Volk and team president Red Auerbach did 28 years ago. But the way the earlier saga ended might be instructive.
- Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The Dallas Mavericks' half-court heave of signing free agent guard Chris Paul has unofficially ended as the Los Angeles Clippers have landed head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers goes from Boston to L.A. in return for a first-round pick. The Clippers' chances of retaining Paul were always great because they can offer him $30 million more than any other team. Now he has a coach he likes, too. This is just another reminder what a bone head play it is to bank on signing the biggest free agents if your team is not located to a really cool, giant body of water. Landing Paul as a free agent was only a chance in hell for the Mavericks - big-time NBA free agents NEVER leave for Middle Earth. Ever. First it was Deron Williams (Atlanic Ocean, Hudson River), then it was Chris Paul (Pacific Ocean) and now that leaves Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (Pacific Ocean) on their to-do list. Let's just be real clear - D12 is not coming to the Mavericks. Neither was Deron Williams. The same for Paul. But the Mavs' powder is dry.
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post:Throughout June, the coveted Clippers head coaching job was as hot a topic in Littleton and Lowry as it was in Los Angeles. First, Nuggets coach George Karl was connected to the job. Then, in the days after Karl was let go, Nuggets coaching candidates Lionel Hollins and Brian Shaw were also considered candidates for the Clippers job. Sunday, however, there finally was clarity. The Clippers agreed to hire Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, according to national reports. That is good news for the Nuggets, because now they aren't in competition with the Clippers for Shaw, an Indiana Pacers assistant, or for Hollins, the former Memphis Grizzlies coach.
- Marc Bernman of the New York Post: LeBron James defended Long Island's Danny Green of the Spurs on the perception he partied with the Miami Heat in South Beach after they beat San Antonio late Thursday night for the NBA championship. A picture that raced around the web Friday showed James giving Green a hug at the exclusive South Beach nightclub, LIV, at the Fountainbleau Hotel in the wee hours. Green and James were teammates in Cleveland during the 2009-10 season and Green told The Post they were good friends as Cavaliers. Wade and James reportedly didn't show up at the club until 3 a.m. James, who rarely tweets, wrote on twitter account today: "Danny Green did not party with us on Thursday night. He came to say congrats and I told him how proud of him I was for taking full advantage of the opportunity he was giving and keep going. We dapped up, showed love and he left. #StopBelievingAllYouHear''
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has been told by his agent, Dan Fegan, not to comment on the Kings. Cousins is eligible for a contract extension this summer. Pete D'Alessandro said he has a good relationship with Fegan and looks forward to meeting with Cousins. "A lot of this stuff gets somewhat blown out of proportion," D'Alessandro said. "This league is what it is; there (are) no surprises here. I can't wait to get my time to sit down with DeMarcus. I think face time is what it really is. You don't know someone until you look them in the eyes. …"
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: With the NBA Draft four days away, rumors are running rampant about what the Cavaliers will do. Will they take Kentucky center Nerlens Noelafter all, or will his bad left knee sway them toward Maryland center Alex Len or UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett? Could they address their need at small forward with Georgetown's Otto Porter Jr. or take a flier on a shooting guard such as Ben McLemore of Kansas or Victor Oladipo of Indiana? Will they make a surprise pick as they did last year when they took Syracuse's Dion Waiters at No. 4? Or will they trade the pick? Whereas trading the pick was thought to be their preference all along, it sounds easier to do than it may prove to be.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Georgetown sophomore Otto Porter Jr. and UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett don’t have remotely similar playing styles or back stories, but as Thursday’s NBA draft draws near, they find themselves at the center of the debate — both among fans and within the Wizards’ war room — about what direction team President Ernie Grunfeld should go with the third overall pick. “I hear it all over, on Twitter, that I could come” to Washington, Bennett said in a recent telephone interview, “that it’s between me or Otto Porter.” Other candidates could find themselves in the mix for the No. 3 pick — especially if Porter or Bennett goes sooner. But with most draft boards projecting that Cleveland and Orlando will take other options at first and second, respectively, the Wizards’ choice always seems to come down to Porter or Bennett.
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Last season, New Orleans Pelicans starting small forward Al-Farouq Aminu was unable to string good performances together, especially offensively. He showed promise as a rebounder, but for the second consecutive season he was tentative offensively. For the most part, New Orleans was overmatched at the spot with Aminu, who made only 23.6 percent of his shots (17 of 72) from 15 to 19 feet and went 4 of 19 from 3-point range in 76 games. … Aminu becomes a free agent on July 1, but the Pelicans should target a veteran free agent capable of handling the role. They need a player like Denver's Andre Iguodala, a proven player capable of drawing double teams but still able to make shots. Even if the Pelicans look to the draft to improve the spot, they still need to go after acquiring a proven small forward through free agency. Perhaps, the only available draft prospect that could provide immediate help at the spot for the Pelicans is Georgetown's Otto Porter, who is considered by some scouts to be the most NBA-ready lottery prospect.
- Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: But here’s one I like: In 2014-15, Charlotte makes the playoffs, wins the first playoff game in franchise history and, perhaps, its first playoff series. Maybe I’m desperate and deluded. Maybe I can’t remember what it’s like to write about a local major-league team with more victories than losses. … I know you’re tired of waiting. We’re all tired of waiting. Charlotte’s rebuilding plan could be entitled: “There is no finish line.” Pyramids have been constructed more quickly, small pyramids, anyway. But what if, in Charlotte’s 10th season, the plan finally enables the Bobcats to compete? What if fans fill the arena not because Miami is in town but because they want to watch Kemba Walker and the fellows? What if fans go to the gym expecting a victory by the home team? In 2014-15, the Charlotte Bobcats become the Charlotte Hornets. What if the name change is the least of the reasons to cheer?
- Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune: So now with the hiring of Flip Saunders as president of basketball operations, Glen Taylor seems more involved than ever and he is probably more excited about this draft than any in recent memory. The Timberwolves will go into Thursday’s draft with two first-round choices and two second-round picks. With the abundance of draft choices, Taylor was asked if he and Saunders have talked about trading up or down. “Well, we’re willing to do that, and I know that Flip has talked to some teams,” Taylor said. “But it has to be that we could trade up to where we could get the exact player that we want to get. I don’t know if that is going to work out. But we’re looking at all options. We’re willing to trade up or trade down in order to land the players that we need.” … There has been a lot of talk about the Wolves trading Derrick Williams, who might have been playing the best of anyone on the roster at the end of last season. Does Taylor see any reason to move him? “There are teams that have called us and asked us if we are going to trade him, but I think that everybody saw the same thing that you saw, including the coach,” Taylor said. “Once we got him out on the floor and he had a chance to play, he started to play better. We have to remember that he still a very young man and a player that has a lot of potential. So we may trade somebody on our team, but it’s not going to be [him], unless it really would help our team.”
- Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer: The 76ers will try to find great value late Thursday night with the 35th and 42d overall picks in the second round. The organization also has the 11th overall pick in the first round. But barring a trade, the Sixers realize that a franchise-altering player won't be found with their first selection. … They know that undervalued players could be there for the taking early in the second round. And perhaps no one knows that better than Sam Hinkie, the 76ers' new general manager and president of basketball operations. He spent the last eight years as an executive with the Houston Rockets, who have the blueprint for acquiring first-round-caliber players in the second round. Houston drafted rising star Chandler Parsons in 2011. The team made deals in the second round for former Rockets Chase Budinger (2009) and Luis Scola (2007).
- Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: If there was any doubt about the Milwaukee Bucks’ interest in drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, they were emphatically dispelled last week. That’s when the Bucks gave the talented shooting guard from Georgia the red carpet treatment before his workout. Bucks director of basketball administration Dave Dean gave Caldwell-Pope a tour of the city, and Bucks general manager John Hammond and director of scouting Billy McKinney took him to a swanky restaurant, where Caldwell-Pope feasted on steak and shrimp. Caldwell-Pope would certainly be a fine addition for the Bucks. Their starting shooting guard Monta Ellis has declared he’ll opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his backup, J.J. Redick, is also as good as gone as an unrestricted free agent. … So, if Caldwell-Pope isn’t available for the Bucks, who is their Plan B for a shooting guard? It may be Jamaal Franklin, who did virtually everything for San Diego State last season. Franklin led San Diego State in scoring (17 points), rebounds (9.5), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). Franklin was the only NCAA Division I player to lead his team in all four of those categories last season.
- Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News: Aside from those four, I wouldn’t mind of the Jazz took Marquette guard Vander Blue, because it would be cool writing his name in stories. Same with Ian Hummer, the 6-7 forward from Princeton. By the same token, I hope they don’t pick Georgia Tech’s Mfon Udofia, Oklahoma’s Amath M’Baye, Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe or Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng, names I’d have to look up every time I wrote a story. The worst, however would be a couple of guys who didn’t work out for the Jazz. Giannis Adetokoubo of Greece, the youngest player in this year’s draft at age 19, is slated to go in the top 15, while Oleksandr Lypovyy of the Ukraine should be available when the Jazz pick in the second round. So that’s the nightmare scenario for us sportswriter types: Utah drafting Adetokoubo in the first round and Lypovyy in the second. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for Larkin and Plumlee.