Can the Lakers, Celtics or Heat find any help in this draft?

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The focus during the draft is often on the teams that saw little of the spotlight during the season — hello Minnesota!

But what about some of the league’s top teams that need some tweaks to get a ring next season? The Miami Heat made it to the finals but it is clear their roster needs improvement around the Big Three (or whatever you want to call them). The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are still very good teams that need to get younger and more athletic to hang another banner.

Can those teams find help in this draft?

No, not really. Not where they are picking.

Not that they can’t get guys who can evolve into good players, but they can’t get anyone in this draft who can help next season in any meaningful way. And all three of these teams are in “win now” modes. Their championship window is open, they need guys who can play tomorrow, not in two years.

The Heat have the 31st pick in the draft, the first pick of the second round. They are rumored to be high on Reggie Jackson, the 6’3” point guard out of Boston College, who is a favorite sleeper of a lot of scouts. To do my best Jay Billis imitation, he has a freakishly long wingspan (7’0”) and is very athletic, he’s able to penetrate and get in the lane, plus he is a willing passer. His outside shooting needs work and his game needs to mature. So, right now he sounds a lot like what the Heat already have. But in a couple of years he could be a quality point guard.

The Celtics are not under any illusions they are getting real talent in this draft, picking No. 25 in the first round. Look what Boston decision maker Danny Ainge told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England.

“Not trying to put a negative spin on this; trying to be realistic,” said Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “The 25th pick of the draft is probably not going to help us immediately. But there are some players that we think can fit our roster, the personality of our team, make our team better in practice and add depth to our roster.”

So, Boston is drafting a practice body, someone for Kevin Garnett to beat up before he beats up other teams. Rumor is they like Jimmy Butler, the forward out of Marquette.

The Lakers have four picks in the draft — but the first one is No. 41, the 11th pick in the second round. Once you get to pick 40, the Lakers have 20 percent of the picks left in the draft.

What they are looking for is a guy that can develop into a player for them in three years or so. Or a guy they could stash in Europe while he matures. This is essentially what they did last year when drafting Devin Ebanks (he will stick with the team next season) and Derrick Caracter (he may not).

Of the four guys the Lakers draft this year, look for one or two to fill out the very end of the team’s bench this season (depending on roster moves and how many spots there are).

The Celtics, Lakers and Heat may find a gem in this draft. They may find a guy who becomes a part of the regular rotation. But it won’t be for next year, when these teams really need the help.

Report: James Harden, Chris Paul and Gerald Green were holding back Trevor Ariza in back hallway

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Rockets players James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room after last night’s game.

That’s one version of the story, at least.

But it apparently isn’t the only one – at least when it comes to Harden’s, Green’s and Paul’s involvement.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

A hallway runs between the Clippers locker room and the visitors locker room, where players from opposing teams often see each other and catch up. According to a Rockets source, Ariza was waiting on Griffin, and when the game ended he charged from the hallway into the Clips locker room. When Rivers spotted Ariza near the entrance, according to the source, he said: “Let his b—– a– come in.” Ariza then turned his attention to Rivers.

ESPN reported that Ariza was flanked by three teammates—Harden, Paul and Gerald Green—but their purpose was unclear. “They were holding Trevor back,” the source said.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Harden was sitting out his seventh straight game with a strained hamstring on Monday night, and Rockets sources believe that he’ll be ready for a return to the lineup on Thursday night against Minnesota.

Austin Rivers challenging Ariza is juicy, but the type of thing people say during altercations. The rest of this sounds like the Rockets trying to position themselves ahead of the NBA handing down punishments.

If they were just trying to restrain Ariza, then Harden, Paul and Green shouldn’t be fined or suspended. But if Harden is suspended, he could serve his penalty Thursday – even if the Rockets are fibbing about him being ready to play (though they at least previously laid the groundwork for that one).

There’s a lot for the league to untangle.

Russell Westbrook ejected (video)

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Russell Westbrook jumped from fifth to second in the NBA in technical fouls in about two seconds.

The Thunder star received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection late in Oklahoma City’s win over the Kings last night, leaving his nine technical fouls behind only Draymond Green‘s 11.

Westbrook got hit in the face on a drive, but instead of a foul being called on Sacramento, Westbrook was whistled for travelling. That’s quite a turnaround from the expected call to the actual call, so I understand why Westbrook was so upset. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook said something that warranted ejection. Thunder coach Billy Donovan also got a technical foul in the sequence.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

The league used to crack down on that more with public fines, but the Thunder have skirted the rule this season.

Report: ‘Several prominent’ Cavaliers express concern about aging, defenseless, redundant roster

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The Cavaliers look like they can’t hang with the Warriors, which is troubling enough for a team with championship aspirations.

But for that realization to come during a miserable 2-8 stretch only puts more stress on the Cavs, who already appeared to be ripping at the seems. LeBron James is performativity howling at his teammates. They’re pointing the finger back at him. Coach Tyronn Lue is talking about personal agendas.

And tensions aren’t easing.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 118-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday, multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix its problems and get back on a championship track.

Several prominent players, speaking on condition of anonymity to ESPN, Cleveland.com and The Athletic, expressed doubt that the problems — an aging roster, defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players — could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy.

The Cavaliers have one preeminent player: LeBron. It’d be disingenuous to frame this article this way without including him, and I doubt McMenamin is doing that.

These concerns are perfectly valid.

Cleveland is the NBA’s oldest team, weighted by playing time, in a decade. That doesn’t bode well for building up steam toward and in a long playoff run. This is an even more extreme version of the problem LeBron’s last Heat team succumbed to.

Isaiah Thomas is a defensive liability, and Kevin Love – playing a lot of center – isn’t a rim protector. Several other players – LeBron, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver, Jose Calderon, Channing Frye and Derrick Rose – are well past their defensive peaks, which weren’t necessarily high in the first place. The Cavs’ defense ranks 29, ahead of only the Kings.

Wade, Calderon and Rose can’t all serve as lead playmaker while LeBron sits – leaving the other two without clear roles when everyone is healthy. Smith and Korver would both be spot-up 3-point specialists if Smith were hitting shots. Jae Crowder and Jeff Green look similar (a compliment to Green, but a telltale sign of how underwhelming Crowder has been). Frye is a lesser version of Love as a stretch five. Tristan Thompson can’t get going, and Iman Shumpert can’t get healthy.

To be fair, the Cavaliers are 26-17 – hardly bad, but not quite championship-caliber. This portrait of doom and gloom is accurate only when measured against the highest of expectations.

The Cavs can still trade the Nets’ first-round pick to upgrade the roster, though they’re reportedly disinclined to do so. This report sounds like a plea from top players for the team to reconsider. And if owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman don’t, it’ll read as LeBron framing his exit in free agency next summer.

Danny Green tugs down Dennis Schroder’s shorts (video)

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We collectively made a federal case out of J.R. Smith untying shoelaces.

We probably ought to at least question what the heck Danny Green was doing to Dennis Schroder here.

At least Schroder got the last laugh with 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the Hawks’ win over the Spurs.