Blake Griffin trying to focus on court, not trade rumors

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Know this — Blake Griffin wouldn’t mind playing with Chris Paul or Dwight Howard if the Clippers could swing one of them in a trade.

“Yea, I guess that’d be all right,” Griffin told ProBasketballTalk with a laugh. “That would be great, obviously, both of those guys are very, very good. But it’s got to be the best fit for the team and it’s got to make sense not just for this year but for the next several years.”

Also know that right now the trade situation is not Griffin’s focus, it is getting ready for the season. Well, on Monday his focus was making sandwiches for Subway (a product he endorses) as part of the company’s Customer Appreciation Month. Griffin admitted he gave away more sandwiches than he sold, which may not be best for business.

Which is okay, sandwiches are not his business. Basketball is. Griffin may be the best finisher around the rim in the game right now but he spent his summer working on an outside shot to balance that out.

“Really just working on my shot,” Griffin said. “A lot of midrange, a lot of face up out of the post, a lot of pick-and-pop, a lot of stuff like that. I’m not really worried about my three point shot right yet, that’s something that may come later, right now just becoming more consistent with the shots I’ll shoot in games.”

Which includes the 12-foot bank shot that Tim Duncan made a living on. Griffin broke that out at times last season.

“(The Tim Duncan bank) has always been one of my favorite shots out of the post, especially on the left block, but I really added it to both sides and getting more reps and all that,” Griffin said.

Last year the Clippers were everybody’s surprise team and fun to watch. And when they were healthy — with Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Mo Williams in the lineup — they were pretty good. Griffin says he wants to get into camp and get rolling this year with the team they have not focus on what could be (and how much of that core would have to be shipped out to make a deal for a superstar).

“Some of the free agency stuff is out of our hands, it’s got to be who is a good fit for the team,” Griffin said, sounding sincere while using a standard athlete cliché. “I know we are looking forward to getting everybody actually on the team into L.A. and start working….

“We need to get off to a fast start. We’ve got to stay healthy, we’ve got to go on the road and wins and win the games we’re supposed to.”

When this season ends Team USA will be put together to compete for the gold medal at the London Olympic Games. Griffin’s name has come up as a potential player on that squad. Griffin said he has not had contact with USA Basketball about that but certainly would listen.

“I have not talked to them about it but yes, playing for your country is one of the best honors you can have,” Griffin said.

But that’s another rumor. One Griffin is trying not to focus on as he prepares for the season.

Cavaliers, Warriors sweeps mean time to rest, get mental breather

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant can take some pressure off that tender left calf. LeBron James has extra time to recoup after barely leaving the floor in the first round.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr scheduled some medical appointments as he deals with debilitating symptoms still affecting him nearly two years after complications from a pair of back surgeries.

The two star-studded teams expected by many to face off once more in the NBA Finals each swept through their respective first-round playoff series in four games, leaving ample time for the Cavaliers and Warriors to rest up, heal up and prepare for the next opponent.

“It gives me a mental break. As far as physically, I am who I am,” James said. “I’ve played so many games over the years, the best break for me is probably when I’m done.”

Of course guys like James and Draymond Green are already eager to get back on the court.

Cleveland now knows its next opponent is Toronto, while the Warriors were still waiting out the Clippers-Jazz series.

“Definitely have gotten antsy to play,” Green said Friday. “But you see that break and you’re excited about it, just to get that time to rest and get everybody back as close to 100 (percent) as possible for the next round. At the same time you do get antsy to get back on the floor and back in the rhythm of things. I think it’s been a good week for us to sweep and get this time off.”

Durant, still receiving treatment on his left leg and knee, spent Thursday at a San Francisco Giants baseball game. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue threw a huge watch party Thursday night so players and members of the organization could see the Raptors close out the Bucks in six games.

Golden State scrimmaged Friday to stay sharp, while Cleveland players have competed in such ways as racing on cardiovascular machines in the weight room to stay fresh and motivated.

James led the league in minutes during the regular season then played nearly 44 per game in the first-round sweep of Indiana – familiar territory after the Cavs also swept Detroit in the first round last season, then followed by eliminating Atlanta in the minimum four games.

“I’m ready to get this thing going, but obviously I’m not going to rush the process,” James said. “… But, yeah, I don’t like the way I feel when we’re not playing.”

In 2015, when the Warriors captured their first championship in 40 years, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving suffered a freak Game 1 injury when he fractured his left kneecap, and Kevin Love was already lost to a dislocated left shoulder.

Last June, Stephen Curry had returned from a knee injury but never fully got healthy and the thought was the Warriors wore down after chasing and breaking the Chicago Bulls’ regular-season wins record with 73 victories.

“If you could sweep every series that would be perfect,” Durant said, “because you just want to play well and then you’ll worry about the rest afterward. That’s the situation we’re in. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up, so it’s good to have a few days to get your bodies right and your mind right and just get back to the drawing board in terms of individual work, team work.”

In the Warriors’ case, it also has meant more time working with Mike Brown as acting head coach while Kerr is away. The reigning NBA Coach of the Year missed Games 3 and 4 at Portland because he was in such discomfort, having dealt with headaches, neck pain and nausea that recently became worse.

While Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is most known for sitting several star players at once without regard to anything but his team’s best interest, others have caught on and replicated the strategy of spelling players in order to pace for the long haul.

In March 2015, the Warriors lost at Denver with Curry watching – along with Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut – in the first game of a back-to-back. Oh, did Kerr take heat for it, even personally answering a few emails. And the Warriors reached out to other upset fans and sent along care packages.

“As a coach your responsibility is to keep your players healthy and there are times when guys need a night off,” Kerr said.

In December, Cleveland caused an uproar by resting James, Love and Irving in a loss at Memphis. Lue then sat several starters for the final game of the regular season against Toronto, and the teams will meet again in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Monday.

Now, the Cleveland coach insists, James can handle the heavy minutes when it matters most.

“His body can take it,” Lue said, “so I’m not worried about what outside people say.”

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

 

Chris Paul told Paul Pierce: “You’re not ending your career in Utah”

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When the Clippers lose their final game this season — maybe Sunday, maybe not for weeks — the Hall of Fame career of Paul Pierce will come to an end.

It’s not why Doc Rivers was leaning so heavily on Pierce Friday night, that’s more desperation on a shorthanded (and not that deep to start with) lineup. The Clippers got away with 20+ minutes of Pierce on Friday and still got the win.

He even served as an inspiration for Chris Paul, as CP3 said in his postgame press conference.

The best part of that video? DeAndre Jordan‘s reaction.

You can be sure Utah Jazz fans will take this comment as a slight and let CP3 hear about it next season. As for the Jazz players, they are heading into Game 7, how much more motivation do they need.

John Wall’s chasedown block of Dennis Schroder, layup saved game for Wizards (VIDEO)

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Washington had been up 22 points in the third quarter and seemed to be cruising to a win in Atlanta, and with it a trip to the second round… but it would not be that easy. The Hawks made their push back, knocking down threes and chipping away at the Wizards lead until it was all the way down to 93-90, a one possession game.

Then John Wall took over.

It started with the big play you see above — a chasedown block on Dennis Schroder, which turned into a Wall layup on the other end.

That play changed the momentum. Washington closed the game on a 22-9 run where Wall scored the final 13 points on his way to 42 for the night on just 25 shots. The end result was a 115-99 Wizards win to close the Hawks out 4-2.

Steve Ballmer loses control after Austin Rivers three, creates another meme

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Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer has been a meme machine this series. First, there was the sad face after the Clippers Game 5 loss at home.

Then Friday, there was his reaction to an Austin Rivers three.

Ballmer’s reactions may be the best part of the Game 7 between these teams Sunday.