Report: Clippers pull out of talks with Celtics

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Trade deals come back to life more often then Freddy Krueger. I’m not willing to believe this deal is dead until I see real evidence.

Meaning the Clippers hire another coach (Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw or Byron Scott) or the Celtics announce they will keep Paul Pierce and not buy him out. Until then, anything is possible.

But the report from Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times is that the Clippers have pulled out of trade talks with the Boston Celtics that would have brought Kevin Garnett and the rights to sign Doc Rivers to Los Angeles for DeAndre Jordan and a couple first round draft picks.

Multiple other reports say this is not only dead but in the coffin and buried. We will see.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge has called Doc Rivers to say the talks are off and that he wants Rivers back as the Celtics’ coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. That is essentially telling Rivers he can be a broadcaster next season but not a coach anywhere but Boston. Does Doc want to come back? What about Garnett, or is he ready to retire? Do the Celtics buy out Pierce or make one more run with this group, getting they all to come back? That is still on the table.

If this is really dead, the Clippers will hire a new coach. The question is why not move agree to the picks and move all in to win right now?

The Clippers will have Scott in to meet with owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday, Shaw again on Wednesday. It would be very Sterling to decide not to pay Rivers $7 million a year (these other coaches come for half that or less) and lay the blame on the Celtics demanding what would be a late first-round pick. If the Clippers did they would be in win-now mode (they should be anyway) and the pick doesn’t mean much.

While some will suggest this means Chris Paul will look around as a free agent, nobody around the NBA thinks Paul is leaving the Clippers. Not even the dreamers in Houston and Atlanta.

As we have reported before, these conversations started with Celtics GM Danny Ainge asking for Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and two first round picks, and talks “died” once when the Clippers refused to put Bledsoe in the deal for KG and Rivers. Those talks evolved into the Clippers using one pick but maybe taking on Jason Terry and sending Caron Butler to Boston (the Clippers take on the longer contract). Then that part of the deal seemed to fade away and it came down to picks to go with Jordan, and that couldn’t be worked out. Complicating matters were the facts both Jordan and Terry have trade kickers. Pierce was never really part of these talks, that would have been a separate deal.

But is this deal really dead? The sources will say so but I will wait for evidence. The Clippers could wait until July 1 and likely the same pieces would be available. Unless they move forward and actually do hire a coach in the next few days.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.