Blake Griffin says Clippers shouldn’t hang division title banner at Staples Center

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The Clippers are having one of their best seasons in franchise history, but unless it ends in the team’s first NBA title, Blake Griffin is among those who aren’t interested in putting up any banners at the Staples Center to commemorate the accomplishment.

Having already reached the 50-win mark for the first time ever, the Clippers are in line to win their division as well, which would also be a first.

Plenty of teams around the league hang banners for division titles, but in an arena shared with one of the two most storied franchises in NBA history, that might not be a tradition the team wants to start.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

[Winning the division is] a moment Griffin is looking forward to, but he hopes the team doesn’t hang a banner commemorating the occasion in the same rafters that hold the Los Angeles Lakers’ 16 NBA championship banners.

“I kind of have bigger goals than that for the team,” Griffin said. “I think the team has bigger goals than that. We expected to win the division. We didn’t come into this season thinking, ‘Oh, it would be great if we could win the division.’ We expected it. It’s something to be proud of and maybe there’s a banner that goes up (in the training facility), but it’s not something that needs to go up in Staples [Center], and we don’t need to hang our hat on that.”

While it’s easy to have a sense of pride and not want to celebrate mediocre accomplishments that are merely steps along the way to achieving every team’s ultimate goal, it’s easy to see the other side of Griffin’s position.

The Clippers have shared the Staples Center with the Lakers since the arena opened for the 1999-2000 season. The Lakers have plenty of championship banners and retired jerseys adorning one of the walls, but the Clippers don’t have a single reminder hanging anywhere in the building that they too have called it home for the last 14 years.

It is a little silly to drop division title banners inside the same arena that houses the league’s most glamorous franchise. But at the same time, you need to build a culture of winning at some point, right?

The Clippers need to use something as a catalyst. So, while anything they put up at Staples would pale in comparison to the Lakers’ achievements, for a franchise with no positive history whatsover to build upon, it has to start somewhere.

Klay Thompson goes up for 360 dunk in exhibition… and he’s not a dunker (VIDEO)

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Klay Thompson has an amazing skill set — one of the best pure shooters in the league, he can put the ball on the floor and create, and he’s a very good perimeter defender.

He’s not a dunker. Oh, he can dunk, but he’s not the guy you’re inviting to the Dunk Contest.

Case in point, this video out of China where Thompson was part of an exhibition and tried to show off his dunking skills.

Thompson’s shoe sponsor is China-based Anta, which explains why he’s there playing some exhibition ball. In case you missed it, Thompson had a Finals shoe released.

Those are about as good as the 360 dunk.

Sixers will talk contract extension for Joel Embiid this summer, want to lock him up

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Could Joel Embiid be Philadelphia’s Stephen Curry?

No, I don’t mean taking 30-foot bombs that demoralize opponents (although, no doubt Embiid is game for trying it). I mean in having a contract extension off his rookie deal for less than the max, a value contract that allows the Sixers the cap room to secure a title contender around him.

After three seasons in the NBA, Joel Embiid is eligible for a contract extension this summer (one that would be negotiated now but not kick in until the 2018-19 season). Teams lock up their stars at this point, and Embiid is that — he was dominant in the 31 games he played. But it’s 31 games in three seasons, how much do the Sixers want to pay here?

Sixers owner Joshua Harris said extending Embiid is a priority for the team this summer, speaking at a press conference, via the Courier Times.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

A max contract for Embiid would be five years at about $130 million, an average annual salary of $26 million. Because of his injury history, would he be willing to sign five years at $100 million, maybe with an opt-out after four? That extra cap space may not sound like a lot, it’s not a Curry-level savings, but it would help the Sixers’ team building.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by Oct. 31 (the deadline), Embiid will play out this season then be a restricted free agent next season. If he stays healthy, he will get a max deal from another team that the Sixers would just match (the Sixers and Embiid could also reach a deal).

The Sixers are not about to let Embiid go, they have their young core they believe they can contend with in a few years. Plus he is a fan favorite. The only question left is cost.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.