Report: Clippers, Celtics trying to work out Garnett trade league will approve

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UPDATE 1:50 pm: The Clippers and Celtics are actively talking about the trade on Thursday, but now they have a new issue — one that will pass muster with the league.

You cannot trade for a coach. You cannot have side deals or contingencies as part of a trade. There are some precedents of compensation being sent to teams who let a coach go and he signs with another team, but the Clippers can’t just send a couple picks along with Kevin Garnett that clears the way for the Clippers to sign Doc Rivers after the Celtics release him. And breaking this up into a couple deals doesn’t pass the smell test with the league, either (they’re not stupid).

The two sides are trying to figure out a different way to structure the deal that works for everyone and passes muster with the league. And it’s not going to be simple, this deal is going to get massaged pretty well to make it happen.

2:21 am: Not only is the Clippers/Celtics trade back from the dead (don’t say I didn’t warn you) it looks like it could come together Thursday.

If Clippers owner Donald Sterling signs off on it this deal could come together Thursday reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

After superstar Chris Paul injected his influence to accelerate talks, the Los Angeles Clippers are searching for ownership approval to complete a blockbuster deal to bring Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and forward Kevin Garnett to L.A., league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Clippers management planned to huddle with owner Donald Sterling on Wednesday night in Los Angeles to get his approval and move on Thursday to finalize an agreement with the Celtics, sources said. Sterling met with Clippers coaching candidate Brian Shaw, an Indiana Pacers assistant coach, on Wednesday night.

The deal would bring Kevin Garnett and the right to sign coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and two first round picks, according to multiple reports. The picks are essentially compensation for Rivers, who would walk away from the three remaining years on his Celtics contract to sign a five-year, $35 million deal with the Clippers (technically coaches cannot be traded so this is the workaround).

Paul Pierce would not be part of this deal, however after the KG and Rivers moves the Celtics would buy Pierce out of his contract (the team can buy out the final year and $15 million of his deal for just $5 million before July 1). After that Pierce would be a free agent expected to sign with the Clippers.

You can say with this move Chris Paul is a lock to re-sign with the Clippers, but he was already going to do that. That said, with this he’s gotten what he wants — veteran roster ready to compete to be playing next June.

Rivers met with Celtics GM Danny Ainge on Wednesday and in the conversation Rivers reportedly emphasized his desire to coach a contender, not stick around through a rebuilding process. Even if the Celtics brought Garnett, Pierce and Rivers back they are not contenders in the East.

If this goes down, the Celtics move on to a complete rebuilding process, likely around Rajon Rondo, but who knows how far they strip it down.

With those three the Clippers instantly get better but much older. Garnett would bring stability to a Clippers defense that needs it, Rivers a more polished hand at the helm.

The Clippers would be title contenders next season (if they can stay healthy) but with a one year, two tops window. Then things would need to be rebuilt.

Donald Sterling wasn’t the kind of owner who a few years back would have paid $7 million a year for a coach or signed off on a deal like this. But the man clearly is willing to spend a little to win and with his nod the Clippers will be in the mix for it all next season.

Marcus Smart returns, helps Celtics win Game 5 over Bucks

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Marcus Smart returned to the Boston Celtics after suffering a thumb injury earlier in the year, and boy was it just in time.

The Celtics guard came off the bench, doing what he does best: attacking opposing guards, grabbing rebounds, and making hustle plays for his squad. Smart thoroughly annoyed the Milwaukee Bucks, and as Giannis Antetokounmpo failed to make a push in the second half (and as Khris Middleton‘s shooting slowly deteriorated) it was Boston who came out with a win in Game 5, 92-87.

Milwaukee’s offense failed to show up early. According to NBA TV, it was the second-lowest halftime total for the Bucks this season, and the away team scored just 37 points at the break. Milwaukee struggled mightily as a team, shooting just 21 percent from 3-point range. Despite the issues, both Antetokounmpo and Middleton had 11 points by half.

Boston’s attack was balanced, with nine players scoring in the first half but none reaching double figures. Smart was effective off the bench, playing 12 minutes in the first half. Smart’s presence was felt elsewhere on the floor as well; in those minutes he racked up two blocks, two rebounds, and two assists.

The Celtics stalled to start the third quarter, at times going several minutes between baskets. The intensity level was still high, particularly during one tussle with 9:33 left in the third. Eric Bledsoe and Terry Rozier got into a bumping match on the baseline away from the ball, resulting in one player getting pushed into an official. Bledsoe earned a Flagrant 1 for his efforts, and Rozier was assessed a technical.

Milwaukee began to battle back on surprising baskets by Shabazz Muhammad. The former Minnesota Timberwolves wing dropped two 3-pointers to help the Bucks make a run at the Celtics all the way into the fourth quarter.

The critical play of the game came with 80 seconds left. With the shot clock winding down, Al Horford was allowed by officials to shoot a long jumper. The refereeing crew didn’t blow the whistle, and Boston took a second possession after a backtip.

Then, with 28 seconds left as the Bucks were trying to steal or foul the Celtics, came the play Boston fans had been waiting for from Smart. At first it appeared Milwaukee had shot at a turnover as they hustled Smart to the floor on a trap. Thinking quickly, Smart leapt on the lost ball, flipped over, and sent a pass to a wide open Horford for the basket, all but sealing the game.

Milwaukee tried to play the foul game in the final minute or so, but weren’t able to come up with a win. Antetokounmpo finished with just 16 points and Middleton with 23. Horford led the Celtics with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists.

Boston now leads the series, 3-2, as they head back to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Thursday.

Meek Mill gets out of jail, takes helicopter to 76ers-Heat, rings bell pregame

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Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid had been one of the most notable NBA players leading the charge for the #FreeMeekMill movement. The rapper Meek Mill, a Philadelphia native and Sixers fan, has been incarcerated for violating the terms of his probation multiple times.

At the heart of the movement to free Meek Mill is the idea of comparative justice, that he has been unfairly targeted because of his race as an absorber of punishment from the penal system despite it being a decade since he committed his crime. People from Embiid to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft have made their voices heard on the subject.

Today, Meek Mill was released from prison and was sent a special gift: the opportunity to fly via helicopter, provided by 76ers minority owner Michael Rubin, to Game 5 between the Sixers and Miami Heat.

When he arrived at the game, the rapper rung the ceremonial bell before tip-off.

Not a couple of hours fresh out of the joint.

Russell Westbrook fined $10,000 for confrontation with Gobert, no suspension

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The rule in the NBA is clear and strictly enforced (just ask Amar’e Stoudemire and the Suns): Leave the bench during an altercation and you get suspended for a game.

Monday night, in the fourth quarter of the chippy game Monday where the Jazz beat the Thunder, Russell Westbrook was set to check into the game when there was a little dust-up between Rudy Gobert in Raymond Felton, and Westbrook came in and escalated it. Did he leave the bench, or was he coming into the game and that’s different.

The NBA decided he was coming into the game already — Westbrook got a $10,000 fine and an after-the-fact technical, but no suspension.

OKC needs Westbrook — and an aggressive Westbrook who is knocking down his midrange shot — to have a chance to avoid elimination in Game 5 Wednesday. The Thunder have had their strengths turned against them, and have not shown the versatility to adjust in this series, and if Westbrook and company cannot change that Wednesday their season will end.

Nets hire Pablo Prigioni as assistant coach, Tiago Splitter as scout

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired former NBA player and Argentine guard Pablo Prigioni as an assistant coach.

The Nets also announced Tuesday that former Spurs center Tiago Splitter was hired as a pro scout.

Prigioni spent most of his professional career in Spain and won a bronze medal with Argentina in the 2008 Olympics before coming to the New York Knicks in 2012 as a 35-year-old rookie. He spent four years in the NBA with the Knicks, Rockets and Clippers.

Splitter helped San Antonio win the 2014 NBA championship before spending the final two seasons of his seven-year career with Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Nets said Splitter, who also played for Brazil’s national team, will have added duties related to player on-court development.