Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul on boycott if Sterling is still owner: “That’s something me and Doc are both talking about”

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The Clippers interim CEO painted a bleak picture on the witness stand this week — if Donald Sterling still owns the team when next season starts it could lead to a “death spiral” of players, coaches and sponsors boycotting and trying to get out.

Chris Paul wants you to know that’s not just hyperbole.

The Clippers All-Star point guard and team leader was in Las Vegas this week and spoke to ESPN about the possibility of a boycott if Sterling is not removed by the opening tip-off of next season.

“That’s something me and Doc are both talking about,” Paul said on Thursday after coaching his AAU program, CP3. “Something has to happen, and something needs to happen soon — sooner rather than later….

“We’re all going to talk about it,” Paul said. “We’re all definitely going to talk about it. Doc, Blake [Griffin], DJ [DeAndre Jordan]. It’s unacceptable.”

Much like Parsons on the stand it benefits Paul — the president of the players’ union — to talk tough and paint a bleak picture here to keep pressure on the league. The owners and players are on the same page here, Sterling is bad for the other owners’ business and nobody wants to be answering questions about him when the season starts. But it never hurts for the players to keep some pressure on the owners here.

However, that doesn’t mean Rivers, Paul, Blake Griffin or anyone else is eager to blow this thing up, something PBT has heard from multiple sources. Doc Rivers isn’t looking to bolt down the hall at Staples Center. The Clippers core realizes they are a team on the cusp and believe they have a real title shot as a group in the next couple of years.

If Donald Sterling is the owner come the start of the season the players may want to make a statement.

Which is another reason the league will not let it get to that.

The NBA hopes the judge in the probate case between Donald and Shelly Sterling (which has closing arguments next week) will rule in the coming weeks for Shelly and do so in such a way to make Sterling’s appeal nearly impossible (something he can do and Shelly’s lawyers have pushed for). Do that and the league will approve the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion quickly and Donald’s other lawsuits will be reduced to a nuisance. He will be out and that is a much cleaner process for the league and its owners.

If the judge rules for Donald or leaves the door open for an appeal process that could drag out, the league can always just take the step it was going to originally and have the other owners vote to revoke Sterling’s franchise. (This is something they can do because being an NBA owner is like being admitted to a country club where the other owners can choose who gets to be in the club.) You can be sure a smart lawyer like Commissioner Adam Silver knew he had the votes to do this before he suggested it back when this first broke.

The league reportedly has let Shelly Sterling and Ballmer know that if by Sept. 15 this is not resolved and the team is not under new ownership then the league will proceed with the vote to out Donald and re-do the sale through a blind bid (although that likely brings in less money this time around).

One way or another they want Sterling out by the start of the season.

In part to avoid what Chris Paul might do.

J.B. Bickerstaff calls Rockets ‘broken team,’ ‘fragmented bunch’

Houston Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff rubs his head in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Houston. The Wizards won 123-122. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
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Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been unafraid to sharply assess his team.

But after last night’s loss to the Trail Blazers – Houston’s third straight defeat and sixth in eight games – Bickerstaff kicked up the rhetoric even further.

Bickerstaff, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

“We’re broken,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s that simple. We’re a broken team, and we all need to use this break to figure out how we’re going to impact change. If we don’t want to impact change, then we need to be made aware of that, too, and we’ll go in a different direction.

“We can’t continue to go out and play this way. It’s easy to see it’s a fragmented bunch. You can’t win that way.”

This is why Dwight Howard is on the trade block. The Rockets are so incohesive, there’s no simple solution in sight. This increasingly looks like a lost season for Houston, which should emphasize future planning – like dealing Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent at age 30 this summer.

Yet, the Rockets are just a half game from playoff position. They obviously dreamed much bigger when the season began, but at this point, merely making the postseason should qualify as a success.

It’s Bickerstaff’s job to get them there, no matter how unlikely. He has certainly shown little fear in trying, whether it’s giving these quotes or pulling all five starters simultaneously shortly into a game. He’s trying to put his mark on this team.

The players just aren’t responding, not more than periodically, at least. From James Harden down, nobody plays with the requisite focus and energy.

Nothing in Bickerstaff’s assessment is surprising. It’s just surprising he said it so bluntly publicly.

Then again, that’s nothing compared to what veteran Houston guard Jason Terry said. Eric Ringering of 750 The Game:

https://twitter.com/ringering45/status/697664478993756164

Devin Booker to replace Nerlens Noel in Rising Stars at All-Star Weeekend

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts after hitting a 3-point shot against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
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Sixers big man Nerlens Noel — who has looked much improved this season once Ish Smith was feeding him the rock on offense — sat out the Sixers game Wednesday night due to tendonitis in his right knee. After he missed his rookie season with knee issues, you can understand why the Sixers want him to be cautious.

Noel is going to sit out All-Star Weekend as well — he had been scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, but he is going to sit that out and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns will take his place, the league has announced (Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic broke that story).

Booker has been one of the few bright spots for the Suns this season, averaging 10.6 points a game and shooting 40.3 percent from three.

He will play for the USA in the World vs. USA format of the Rising Stars Challenge (the former rookie/sophomore game, featuring first and second year players).

With Emmanuel Mudiay replacing Patrick Beverley, NBA reveals Skills Challenge bracket

Houston Rockets' Patrick Beverley (2) knocks the ball away from Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the first half of a NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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Out: Defending champion Patrick Beverley.

In: Emmanuel Mudiay Emmanuel Mudiay.

The NBA confirmed the Rockets guard would miss the Skills Challenge and that Mudiay would replace him. The league also release the bracket:

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My picks:

Quarterfinals

Semifinals

  • Isaiah Thomas over C.J. McCollum
  • Anthony Davis over Draymond Green

Final

  • Isaiah Thomas over Anthony Davis

NBA suspends Hassan Whiteside for elbowing Boban Marjanovic’s head

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Hassan Whiteside lost his cool and elbowed Boban Marjanovic in the head Tuesday.

The Heat center received a flagrant 2 and an ejection, and now he’s getting the rest of his punishment.

NBA release:

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside has been suspended one game without pay for throwing an elbow and making contact with the head of San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Whiteside was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected, occurred with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ 119-101 win over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Feb. 9.

Whiteside will serve his suspension when Miami plays the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 19 at Philips Arena.

The suspension will cost Whiteside $8,921. As a result, the Heat – in line to become the first team in NBA history to pay the repeater luxury-tax rate – trim their impending tax bill by $24,534.

More importantly for Whiteside, this will be a strike against him for teams considering offering him a big contract in free agency this summer.