David Stern shoots down Clippers/Celtics trade as constructed

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There are two key rules in play here.

One, you can’t trade a player for a coach. That is not actually in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (according to Larry Coon, CBA expert), the document doesn’t mention the idea at all, but the league is saying since it is not outlined as permitted it is not allowed.

Two, you can’t have any side, wink-wink deals tied to a trade. That is clearly laid out in the document.

So the Clippers can’t just throw two first round picks as compensation for Doc Rivers as part of a DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett trade, as has been proposed and the teams had basically agreed to.

NBA Commissioner David Stern himself shot the idea down on ESPN Radio in New York, as transcribed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

“The teams are aware that the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t authorize trades involving coaches’ contracts…

“The teams know that,” Stern said. “It has been confirmed to them. … It can’t be gotten around by breaking it up into two transactions.”

“If you think those, at this point — having been all over the media for the last week — are separate transactions … I have a bridge that I would very much enjoy selling to you,” Stern said.

That leaves the Clippers and Celtics trying to find a workaround. The Celtics don’t want Doc Rivers to leave them as coach and head to another team without compensation, but how to get that to pass muster with the league remains a real sticking point now.

This is different then when Stern blocked the trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers — at that time he was acting as the defacto owner of the Hornets (remember George Shinn sold the team to the league which sold it a year later to Tom Benson, the trade was proposed while the team was in the league’s control). This time he’s acting as commissioner. Not that many people are going to make that distinction.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.