Los Angeles Clippers' Paul puts his arm around teammate Griffin during NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles

Clippers promote Gary Sacks, basically make him GM

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Blake Griffin has gotten what he wanted.

As had been rumored, the Clippers have promoted from within, announcing that 19-year Clipper veteran Gary Sacks is the new Vice President of Basketball Operations. So, while he is not formally the general manager, he is in practice the general manager.

“Gary has been a valuable and loyal member of our organization for the past 18 years,” Clippers’ President Andy Roeser said in a released statement. “His recent role this very productive summer, as well as his many contributions during the course of his tenure made it clear that he is the right person to lead our Basketball Operations Department.”

The Clippers lost former GM Neil Olshey to Portland earlier this summer. Olshey was key because he was part of the change of culture in the Clippers organization, now Sacks has to continue that.

This summer the Clippers player personnel moves — and they were pretty good ones — were made by a trio of men — Sacks, Roeser (who was the money/contract guy) and head coach Vinny Del Negro. Although, if you listen to the buzz around the league the real driving force was CAA — the firm that represents Chris Paul.

That is Sacks’ and the Clippers main job now — get Chris Paul to re-sign with the team after this season. It’s max money for CP3, that’s not the question. But Paul is as competitive a guy as there is in this league, he’s just not publicly demonstrative about it in the way Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett are. He wants to win, the Clippers need to convince Paul he can do that in Los Angeles.

Paul has to ask himself two questions: 1) Can the Clippers win a ring in the coming years, and do I trust this management to get the team there? 2) If I leave, where can I go that I have a better shot?

For the next five years or so it is likely the Thunder and the Heat that are the big hurdles to winning a ring, and in the West the Lakers have pushed into that position. Can the Clippers get there? Can Paul lead them there? If Paul jumped to the East Coast, where can a team offer him a max deal and still have the talent to challenge Miami?

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: