Clippers and Rockets to pursue LeBron James if he becomes free agent?

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LeBron James might never hit free agency – he won’t talk about his plan other than to say he’ll discuss it with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – but he still has suitors readying themselves.

The Cavaliers reportedly pursued John Calipari for him, and the Lakers are reportedly delaying their coaching hire for him.

And that doesn’t even include the rational teams.

Yes, they’re interested in LeBron too, even if they don’t telegraph it in such obvious ways.

Bill Simmons of Grantland:

Simmons most often analyzes news reported by others, but occasionally, he breaks news. It’s not exactly clear which he’s doing here.

Does he have specific information about the Clippers’ and Rockets’ plans? Simmons has connections in both organizations, so that’s definitely possible.

Or is he just speculating based on available information, including LeBron’s friendship with Chris Paul and fondness for Los Angeles and Daryl Morey’s unrepentant pursuit of roster upgrades over continuity. Every team in at least a somewhat desirable market should be plotting how to land LeBron if given an opportunity.

If you’re looking for a clue to Simmons’ knowledge of the Rockets’ and Clippers’ intentions, his Clippers plan doesn’t even come close to working.

If they trade DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley and their first-round pick without any salary returning, the Clippers would have just $6,566,562 in space below the projected salary cap. Considering, LeBron’s max starting salary is projected to be $20,659,633, that wouldn’t come close to cutting it.

Simmons doesn’t specify what Darren Collison, Glen Davis and Danny Granger – who each have player options – will do, but even if they all opt out, the Clippers would have just $9,574,848 in cap space. Again, that won’t get LeBron.

Heck, even if they trim their roster to only Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers couldn’t offer LeBron his max contract.

I bet the Clippers and Rockets want LeBron and would chase him if he terminates his contract. But getting him to leave the Heat will be a huge challenge.

The Dan Patrick Show: Heat could look drastically different next season 

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.