Report: Matt Barnes nearing deal with Los Angeles Clippers

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Well, at least Matt Barnes may not have to go shopping for a new house.

Barnes spent the past couple seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers but he wasn’t likely to stick around with the team next season — his minutes dried up in the playoffs as his three-point shooting went cold, then he was arrested in the offseason on an outstanding traffic warrant (something that may not be serious but certainly doesn’t help his case). He said he was still talking to them, but the Lakers didn’t seem to be listening.

However, the Clippers were, according to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

Sources say the 32-year-old is strongly leaning toward joining the other inhabitants of Staples Center, and a deal could be formalized later this week. Barnes turned down a more lucrative deal with Cleveland two summers ago to sign with the Lakers at the behest of Kobe Bryant, and it appears a similar superstar dynamic could be in play with the Clippers and Chris Paul.

Paul, who carries more Clippers clout than ever these days because of his looming free agency in 2013, has been included in the team’s decision-making process throughout the summer and would love to make Barnes the latest addition. He appears on the verge of getting his wish. The Clippers re-signed a Paul favorite in point guard Chauncey Billups earlier this summer, secured a five-year extension with forward Blake Griffin and also added the likes of scorer Jamal Crawford, veteran small forward Grant Hill and reliable big man Ronny Turiaf.

Amick is being gentle here — Paul and his agents at CAA are running the Clippers’ player moves like it’s Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks. A lot of moves the Clippers are making are designed to keep Paul happy — and that means get him to re-sign with the team when he becomes a free agent this summer.

But if Paul is recruiting that is a big plus — like all of us, players want to be wanted. Fellow players recruiting can work if the money is about the same.

It’s not like the Clippers have a big need on the wing — they have Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill at the three, Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe at the two. That’s pretty good depth already so minutes are not easy to come by here.

Barnes is still talking with the Lakers, Heat and Nets according to the report, but the Clippers may be the front runners. Wherever he signs, we are talking about a veteran minimum or close to it deal.

At that price Barnes, with his defense and athleticism off the bench, provides a good value to the Clippers. Even if they are already loaded at the wing.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?