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.

 

Basketball Hall of Famer John Kundla dies at 101

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — John Kundla, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA championships, died Sunday. He was 101.

Son Jim Kundla said his father died at an assisted living facility in Northeast Minneapolis that he has called home for years.

Kundla coached George Mikan and the Lakers in the 1940s and 1950s, helping them become the NBA’s first dynasty. He went 423-302 before retiring at the age of 42 and went on to coach his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

Kundla was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major pro sports.

Kundla was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. A year later, he was named one of the league’s 10 greatest coaches as part of the league’s “NBA at 50” celebration.

 

Report: Magic signing Marreese Speights to one-year, minimum contract

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It’s a tough market for free-agent centers, as Marreese Speights learned the hard way.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

I wonder whether Speights regrets opting out with the Clippers, who were also slated to pay him a minimum salary. Not only is he stuck with a low-paying deal, he’s on a worse team and one with center depth.

Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo should play only center, where Speights is best. Speights can also play power forward, but Aaron Gordon should get all his minutes there. Maybe Jonathan Isaac should, too, though it’s more tolerable to play him at small forward while the rookie adjusts to the NBA.

Simply, there won’t be much playing time for Speights unless Orlando makes a trade (maybe this is a harbinger) or plays too big of lineups (a lesson it should have learned last season).

Likewise, the Clippers will be fine, though less versatile, without Speights. The acquired Willie Reed (free agency) and Montrezl Harrell (Chris Paul trade) to play behind DeAndre Jordan.

Speights clearly isn’t essential, but he has expanded his range beyond the 3-point arc. He defends with effort, though not necessarily well. There’s a place in the league for stretch fives like him. But he turns 30 in a couple weeks, and his stock is clearly low. At least he’ll have a chance for a bigger payday next summer.

Kristaps Porzingis on Knicks: “This is where I want to stay… this is where I want to win”

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There were multiple, connected reasons it was time for the Knicks to move on from the Phil Jackson era — a triangle of reasons, really — but this one should have been at the top of the list:

He was alienating Krisptaps Porzingis.

We don’t know yet if Porzingis can be a franchise NBA player, however, he shows the potential to do it. He could become a top five NBA player you can build a contender around. You endear yourselves to those kinds of players, not get into power struggles that lead to said player blowing off end-of-year meetings and being guided out the door.

With Jackson gone, Porzingis has more motivation to stay a Knick and be the guy that turns the franchise’s fortunes around. KP was running a youth hoops camp in his native Latvia and was taking questions from the children when one kid got in a question the New York media would have loved to ask: Are you going to abandon New York? Here is Porzingis’ answer, translated and obtained by the New York Post.

“I feel that it is the best place to win. And if you win in New York, you are king. For the last two years, I have had so many positive emotions here that this is where I want to stay and that this is where I want to win.”

The Knicks have their cornerstone big. Now they need a guy on the outside (Kyrie Irving will get mentioned, but he is not the only answer), they need to get and develop young players to go with their stars. It’s the next phase for the Knicks.

But if they can keep Porzingis happy, they can lock him up to a max rookie extension after next year and have that piece in place. Then it’s up to Steve Mills and Scott Perry to put the pieces around him.

Report: LeBron James won’t waive his no-trade clause

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They Cavaliers have had a frustratingly lousy offseason.

They ousted trusted general manager David Griffin. Since, they’ve watched Golden State load up while their roster stagnates, as stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler have landed elsewhere. Now, Kyrie Irving is requesting a trade and reportedly blaming LeBron James for that leaking.

LeBron has practically thrown up his hands and left ownership and management to figure out everything.

But LeBron – with rumors swirling about him leaving in 2018 free agency – won’t take an earlier exit.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

LeBron James will not waive his no-trade clause for any teams at any point during the 2017-18 season, league sources tell ESPN.

Cleveland essentially has two options with Irving:

1. Trade him for better, older players

2. Trade him for worse, younger players

No. 2 becomes much more palatable if the Cavs can also flip LeBron (and Kevin Love) and launch into a full rebuild. But as long as LeBron is around, it’s hard not to contend for a title.

But if they trade Irving for immediate help and LeBron leaves next summer, the Cavaliers could be left with a ghastly roster. That might be the risk they’re forced to take now.

It’s hard to believe the Cavs would trade beloved LeBron, even if he didn’t hold veto power. It would turn owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman into Cleveland villains, co-conspirators in LeBron leaving again. If Gilbert and Altman dare LeBron to leave in free agency, LeBron would have to own the decision himself.

Still, if LeBron and Irving would return incredible hauls of younger players and draft picks – I can’t even imagine what LeBron would draw in a trade – Gilbert and Altman should at least consider it. It just doesn’t seem the Cavs will have that option.