Report: Chris Paul angry with Clippers because he’s blamed for Del Negro firing

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Vinny Del Negro tried to avoid the question, but it was pretty clear he thought Chris Paul got him fired.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling all but came out and said the reason Del Negro is gone is Paul.

Paul says that is not the case at all — and he is pretty angry that he has been saddled with the blame for Del Negro being let go. That’s what a source told Chris Broussard of ESPN.

“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” the source said. “Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you’ve gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He’s very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny’s firing. He had nothing to do with it…

“Chris made it abundantly clear to the Clippers that he did not want to be involved in any decision about Vinny’s future,” the source said. “And Blake had nothing to do with it, either.”

Here is the only question that matters: Is this anger enough to push CP3 to another team? He is an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Maybe. But I doubt it in the end. He may well talk to other teams, but. I don’t think he’s leaving $28 million guaranteed on the table, and I don’t think he’s leaving a city he likes. Finally, I don’t think if he goes anywhere else he is going to be closer to a title than he is in Los Angeles.

As for the Del Negro firing and CP3’s involvement, it comes down to which side you believe. Do you really think Paul remained silent?

I think what Paul’s side leaked is his spin after feeling some mud fly his way. Things are not as simple and clean as the Clippers calling up CP3 and saying, “what do you want to do with the coach?” But no move is made without getting the feelings of him and Griffin on the matter. That said there were a lot of people in Clippers management that wanted Del Negro gone, this was far from a CP3 coup.

None the less I think CP3’s fingerprints are all over this. For a year now the Clippers have made front office moves — such as picking up Jamal Crawford and adding other veterans to the roster — at Paul’s suggestion. Owner Sterling really liked Del Negro personally. Despite what others wanted he would not have made this move if CP3 or someone tied to him didn’t nod in assent at the very least, if they didn’t give the emperor’s thumbs up or down.

This isn’t about something Sterling or anyone else said — we all knew already. Well, it didn’t help that Sterling threw him under the bus publicly. Still, you are the star of this team, the free agent they would do anything to keep, if you had said keep Del Negro he’d be here. You didn’t and he’s gone. That’s how it reads, like it or not.

Paul, this is what happens when you are a superstar free agent — you have all the power. Plenty of things come with that. It just is. I know you don’t want the reputation as a coach killer, but the fact is Magic Johnson and more superstars than you can name got a coach fired over the years. Nobody cares. Well, nobody cares long as you win — that is the source of your power. Win and all is ignored. Lose and it is not.

You will be consulted on the replacement — you don’t get to pick him but the team will ask your input. Give it. Then re-sign and move on. And win. If you do that all this is forgiven and forgotten by fans.

 

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

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Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

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DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

NBA makes it official: LeBron did goaltend on Oladipo’s final shot

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Ultimately, this is moot. Nothing changes — not the critical last Pacers possession, not the fact LeBron James drained a three afterwards (and may well have anyway). All it provides is a little validation for frustrated Pacers fans and players.

Yes, LeBron did goaltend on Victor Oladipo‘s shot with 5.1 seconds remaining in what was then a tie game between the Pacers and Cavaliers. The NBA confirmed it in its Last Two Minute Report on Game 5 in that series. From the report.

“(Above the rim view) shows that James (CLE) blocks Oladipo’s (IND) shot attempt after it makes contact with the backboard.”

Oladipo called it goaltending. However, the officials didn’t call goaltending on the play, therefore it was not reviewable. Often on bang-bang plays like this one an official will call goaltending just to give themselves the chance to review it, but this crew did not (and that is a tough call to make accurately in real time).

From there, LeBron went on to hit the dramatic game-winning three that gave Cleveland the win and a 3-2 series lead.

The report also concluded that it was Thaddeus Young who knocked the ball out of bounds on the baseline with 27.6 seconds left, knocking the ball out of LeBron’s hands. The ball bounced on the line — and was therefore out, but the official didn’t call it — then bounced back up, hit LeBron on the arm and went clearly out of bounds. The referee called the second bounce after it hit LeBron. From the report:

“(Video) shows that Young (IND) deflects the ball away from James (CLE) and it lands out of bounds, but there is no whistle. The ball then bounces and hits James’ arm and lands out of bounds again, which is called. Possession of the ball is incorrectly awarded to the Pacers.”

One other note to Pacers fans: The goaltending call is not why Indiana lost. Oladipo shot 2-of-15 on the night. Darren Collison had a very an off night, was not aggressive, and was 1-of-5 shooting. There are a myriad of plays and decisions that go into a game, one blown call is not why the Pacers lost.

The question is can they regroup at home, get more secondary playmaking and buckets from someone other Oladipo, and can their defense force a Game 7? It can, but they have to put the end of Game 5 behind them first.