The Clippers want to upgrade the three spot this summer. The Jared Dudley era did not exactly work out as either side expected last season.
Outside of that guy who led the Heat in scoring last year, Luol Deng is the best small forward on the market. And he fits what the Clippers need — he’s a strong defender who works well as a third scoring option as either the roll man or cutting off the ball (plus he will get out in transition and finish).
The challenge is the only way Deng ends up with the Clippers is a sign and trade. Deng is good with that, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
If you’re wondering who the Cavaliers would want back, Jamal Crawford’s name has come up in sign and trades. The Clippers have other guys at the three they would move (including Dudley, who could well have a bounce-back year).
The Clippers and Cavaliers are not making any moves until LeBron James makes his decision, as both harbor long-shot dreams he would come to them (for the Clippers it would be LeBron forcing Pat Riley into a sign-and-trade, good luck with that). Meaning this could be on the back burner for a little while.
Deng can take his time, in fact he just got back from Europe. He has had some interest from the Heat but that would involve a steep pay cut he’s not likely to take. Also interested are the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers. A return to the Chicago Bulls is not out of the question.
But don’t expect any action for a little bit. Deng and his suitors are going to take their time.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.