Celtics forward Garnett and head coach Rivers react to a foul called on Garnett in the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta.

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


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.

Charles Barkley: Klay Thompson is a better player than Kevin Durant

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You know the NBA season is back when Charles Barkley is just talking out his… er, saying ridiculous things.

On Inside the NBA before the tip off of San Antonio thrashing Golden State, Barkley said then tried to defend the idea that Klay Thompson is a better all-around player than Kevin Durant. It was vintage Barkley — and it’s what makes the barbershop feel of Inside the NBA must-watch television every week.

The flaw in Barkley’s argument is that he tries to use the “two-way player” argument to try and balance out Durant’s and Thompson’s offensive contributions. Is Thompson a better defender than Durant? Yes. Even though people underestimate Durant’s defense a little, I will stipulate Thompson is a better defender. But does that defense make up for how much more offensive versatility and shot creation Durant brings to the table compared to Thompson? No. Again, Thompson is an excellent offensive player and probably the second best shooter in the game, but he does not create shots or force a defense to adjust the way Durant does. KD’s amazing offense tips the scales more than Thompson’s defense. KD is the better overall player.

And The Jet is way too quick to dismiss Kawhi Leonard as maybe the second best player in the league. But Leonard made his case just after these comments.

Watch Jonathan Simmons posterize JaVale McGee

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This was the exclamation point on the Spurs thrashing of the Warriors on opening night.

Jonathan Simmons — who was a beast in the first half and finished the night with 20 points off the bench — was pounding the ball out top, then as the clock wound down blew by rookie Patrick McCaw, got into the lane looking for the two-handed slam. When JaVale McGee slid over to contest Simmons switched to the one-hander and finished over the big man.

That’s the way to start an NBA season.

Three things we learned Tuesday: Kawhi’s Spurs are not to be trifled with

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 25:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball up court against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter in an NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on October 25, 2016 Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The NBA season has returned, and we are back with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. So if you were busy watching the Cubs bats go cold, here is what you missed.

1) The Spurs are Kawhi Leonard’s team — and they are magnificent. Every year we give lip service to the “don’t sleep on the Spurs” idea, and then we get wrapped up talking about some other bright, shiny new object. Like say a move from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area. We do exactly what we said we weren’t going to do.

Then San Antonio reminds us they are fierce competitors and contenders. Tuesday night the Spurs went into Oracle Arena and slapped Kevin Durant and the Warriors around. This was an old-school beatdown. In a game where the Warriors had the winners of the last three MVP awards, Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the court — a career-high 35 points on 21 shots, he got to the line 15 times, and he had five steals. Tim Duncan is gone and this is now Leonard’s team, without question. He was simply unfair, just torturing the Warriors on both ends and leading a physical Spurs team that dominated the glass — the Spurs had 24 second chance points to the Warriors 4.

Leonard didn’t do it alone, LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 14 boards, Jonathan Simmons came off the bench for 20 and had a highlight chasedown block on Stephen Curry. But make no mistake, this was Leonard’s team and night.

Games in October are incredibly poor predictors of the outcome of a May playoff series. Both of these teams will evolve over the course of the season, and the Warriors will get things figured out. But we learned on opening night there is no doubt the Spurs are Kawhi’s team — and they are not to be trifled with.

2) Golden State’s defense needs some work. It was easy to see the rough spots in the Warriors offense the team still needs to be smoothed out — the passes to teammates who had already vacated the spot, the threes not being in rhythm (7-of-33 from deep, a number of those looks uncontested), and all those stars playing next to each other rather than with each other. It was to be expected.

However, offense wasn’t the Warriors’ big problem — their defense was atrocious. The Spurs scored at a ridiculous 125.9 points per 100 possessions pace, because literally half of their shot attempts were uncontested (according to the NBA.com player tracking stats). San Antonio had an eFG% of 54.1, and the Spurs grabbed the offensive rebound on 41.2 percent of their shots when they did miss. Leonard had a career-high 35 points, Aldridge 26, and the Spurs time after time got the shot they wanted — and they had 24 fast break points, the Warriors did not get back in transition defense. The Warriors missed Andrew Bogut inside, both as a rim protector and on the glass (this was not Zaza Pachulia’s best night).

The past two years, the Warriors had a top five NBA defense, and that as much as their vaunted shooting was the reason they went to back-to-back Finals. No doubt they made the right move adding Durant to the roster — they are going to figure this all out. This was the first game of 82, and we knew there would be some bumps at the start. But more than the offense, Steve Kerr and his staff need to get the Warriors back to being a defensive force.

3) Damian Lillard’s brilliant offense overcame his defense. Again. Damian Lillard came into this season saying he wanted to be MVP, and on opening night he put up those kinds of numbers — 39 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and he led his team to an opening night win against Utah. Portland did a great job of setting their high picks especially high, then letting Lillard go downhill fast off them right at Rudy Gobert — and Lillard finished around and over the big man all night.

Portland had an eight-point lead at the half and led by double digits for chunks of the second quarter, but in the third Utah took the lead because they exposed Lillard on the other end. Utah started running a George Hill/Joe Johnson pick-and-roll (1/3 action) and when Lillard switched it they got the ball to Johnson and he just overpowered Lillard on his way to 29 points. Johnson shot 6-of-7 in the paint and scored at will all night.

Lillard came back and had 16 of his points in the fourth quarter to help Portland get the win, he was nothing short of brilliant on offense. The Blazers got enough stops to rack up the victory at home. But their small backcourt of Lillard and C.J. McCollum is going to be a defensive challenge all season long.

Opening night bonus note: LeBron James was having fun at the expense of the Knicks’ defense. The Cavaliers cruised to a win over New York, and LeBron James had a triple-double and did whatever he wished. And what he wished was to dunk. A lot.

Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry


Jonathan Simmons did his best LeBron James impression on opening night.

While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).

Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.