Windhorst: Cavs extremely active in trade talks

UPDATE 1:16 AM:’s Marc Stein: “Yes: Brendan Haywood is potential S-and-T piece for Mavs. But Mavs sources insist there is ‘no chance’ he moves in sign-and-trade for Shaq.”
Just after 12 AM Eastern on Thursday morning, Brian Windhorst’s twitter feed absolutely blew up with Cavalier-related rumors. The Cavaliers are obviously waiting on LeBron James’ free agency decision with bated breath, but they’re not just sitting around while they wait for his decision. Cleveland knows that it will have to make some real changes to its roster if they want to keep LeBron, and they don’t seem to be wasting any time in trying to improve. 
According to Windhorst, the Cavalier front office has been speaking to other teams about making the following moves:
-After watching Shaquille O’Neal struggle to keep up on defense during the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Cavs are reportedly discussing a “double-sign-and-trade” that would send O’Neal to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for center Brendan Haywood. 
O’Neal’s post scoring was supposed to give the Cavaliers a new dimension, but more often than not he stopped the ball on offense. Defensively, Shaq struggled to keep the faster players in the league in front of him, particularly when he was put in the pick-and-roll. If the Cavs move Shaq for Haywood, it would be a step towards the defense-first/drive-and-kick mentality that Cleveland had during the 2008-09 season. 
-The Cavs are also looking for an upgrade at the two; according to Windhorst, the Cavs are looking at Ray Allen, John Salmons, and Mike Miller in free agency. Allen would likely be their #1 choice, but with Doc Rivers returning it seems unlikely that Allen will leave Boston. 
Delonte West was a revelation at the two-guard position during the 08/09 season. Unfortunately, he never returned to his 08/09 form last season, and Anthony Parker was merely passable as a starting two-guard. Parker was a solid defender and made open threes, but the Cavs are clearly looking for more scoring punch in their backcourt. 
-Cleveland has interest in Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire, but it is unlikely that either would come to Cleveland if LeBron doesn’t re-sign with the team. Since LeBron may leave Cleveland unless the Cavaliers get a player like Bosh or Stoudemire, this could become something of a Catch-22. 
-The Cavaliers have also reportedly shown some interest in contacting Al Harrington. I can’t think of a very compelling explanation for that one. 
These rumors help to confirm what most NBA fans suspected: The Cavs are looking to make moves, and everything can be made available for the right price. That’s what can happen when a team finds itself in an all-or-nothing situation. 

Doc Rivers: Clippers might blow up roster if they fall short this season

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin DeAndre Jordan, Doc Rivers
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The Clippers have gone 56-26, 57-25 and 56-26 the last three years – clearing the commonly accepted 55-win bar for championship contention.

But they’ve also won only zero, one and one playoff series in that span.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

The Clippers have had three cracks at it with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan all in their primes, and they’re not afraid to admit the fourth could be their last — that another flameout will force them to ask whether the core has grown stale.

“We’re right on the borderline,” Doc Rivers tells Grantland during a long sit-down at his office. “I have no problem saying that. I’m a believer that teams can get stale. After a while, you don’t win. It just doesn’t work. We’re right at the edge. Oklahoma City is on the edge. Memphis, too. We just have to accept it.”

I disagree with Rivers.

It’s so hard to assemble a roster that can win a title, and the Clippers absolutely have one. If they fall short this season, they’ll probably still have a title-contending roster the following year. They shouldn’t throw that away just for the sake of change.

Paul (30), Jordan (27) and Griffin (26) are young enough for the Clippers to remain patient.

Rivers makes a good point later in Lowe’s article:

“You need luck in the West,” he says. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs. But that’s also a lesson for us: When you have a chance to close, you have to do it.”

The Warriors were the NBA’s best team last season, but they also got plenty of breaks. That’s why they won the title.

The Clippers might need more luck to win a championship, but it wouldn’t be an overwhelming amount. The better a team is, the less luck it needs. The Grizzlies can probably win a title with all the right breaks, but they need more than the Clippers.

It’s about being good enough to win with the right breaks.

The Clippers are that. They’ll probably be that unless they do something drastic.

Unless a lopsided trade comes around, I’d stick with Paul, Griffin and Jordan until they really prove they can’t win together. That would take years. A team not winning a title is not proof it can’t win a title. Every year, multiple teams can win a championship. Obviously, only one does.

Rivers has it good with his big three. This shouldn’t be a make-or-break year for them.

51 Q: Which coaches start the year on the hot seat?

Lionel Hollins
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Going into every season, there are a few coaches under pressure to perform or risk losing their jobs. This season, the operative word there is “few.” Looking around the NBA, most coaches are either new on the job or aren’t in any real danger of losing theirs. There are five brand-new coaches: Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City), Fred Hoiberg (Chicago), Alvin Gentry (New Orleans), Michael Malone (Denver) and Scott Skiles (Orlando). The coaches they replaced were mostly the ones whose names often came up in these discussions. Practically everywhere else, there is either a long track record of success or clear signs that ownership is happy with the job the coach is doing. Coaches who are actually on the hot seat are few and far between. But here are a few who might find themselves in trouble if their teams underperform:

Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix Suns): Two years ago, Hornacek was a Coach of the Year candidate for taking a team that was supposed to be one of the league’s very works and making them into almost a playoff team. Last season was another near-miss. This season, the Suns are once again on the bubble of being a playoff team — there’s a chance they could grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference, if a lot goes right. Hornacek deserves a lot of credit for their sooner-than-expected success. The only reason he’s on this list is the potential for a chemistry disaster on this roster. Between Markieff Morris‘ situation and another attempt at a two-point guard lineup (this time with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight), there’s a lot that could go wrong, and if the Suns fall out of playoff contention. Hornacek could find himself in a little hot water. But that’s unlikely.

Lionel Hollins (Brooklyn Nets): Hollins has always felt like something of a short-term solution in Brooklyn. The Nets tried going young at the head coaching spot with Jason Kidd, who clashed with management over control before leaving for Milwaukee. This Nets roster is middling at best — some solid veterans, not a lot of young talent, no future hope to speak of unless they land a marquee free agent next summer. Their ceiling is the eighth seed and a first-round exit; their floor is a lot worse than that. It would take a catastrophic start to the year for Hollins to lose his job during the season, but there isn’t exactly a lot of long-term security in his position.

Derek Fisher (New York Knicks): It’s hard to see Phil Jackson firing his protege less than two years in, but the Knicks enter the season with the goal of competing for a playoff spot and a lot of potential to be worse than that. Don’t rule out James Dolan stepping in.

Steve Clifford (Charlotte Hornets): Clifford’s chances of losing his job during the season basically disappeared when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down with a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out the entire season. Without their best perimeter defender, the Hornets’ expectations are a lot lower than they would have been. Now, it’s hard to see them competing seriously for a playoff spot unless Jeremy Lamb makes a huge leap and proves himself capable of being an NBA-caliber starter. If they’re even competitive, it will be an enormous credit to Clifford, who is well-regarded around the league. The story would have been different if they had entered the season with a healthy roster and underperformed, but the MKG injury likely buys Clifford a year before this conversation starts up again.