Doc Rivers, Steve Ballmer

Doc Rivers signs contract with Clippers through 2019

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The Clippers paid a high price to get Doc Rivers, sending a first-round pick to the Celtics for the coach with front-office control.

One year in, the results have been mixed.

The Clippers went a franchise-best 57-25, but they also lost in the second round, falling short of expectations. Off the court, Rivers guided the team through the Donald Sterling mess – even though the coach wasn’t certain he’d stay for the long haul. Safe to say, neither side has been completely thrilled with the arrangement – though Rivers has far, far, far, far, far more reason to gripe.

But with Steve Ballmer even more firmly in charge of the franchise, Rivers isn’t going anywhere.

First, he got a promotion. Now, he has a new contract.

Clippers team release:

The Los Angeles Clippers today announced that President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers has agreed to a contract that will keep him with the team through the end of the 2019 season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This is an important day for this organization,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said. “I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.”

Rivers took over as head coach of the Clippers in June 2013 and led Los Angeles to the best record in franchise history (57-25, .695) and a second straight Pacific Division title. He became President of Basketball Operations on June 16, 2014.

“Steve has shown a clear and determined desire to make the Clippers one of the most elite, first-class and championship organizations in all of professional sports,” Rivers said. “We know we have work to do to get there, but I am motivated by the challenge and thankful for the opportunity to stand together with Steve as we continue to move toward our goal of winning an NBA title.”

Rivers’ fingerprints are all over the Clippers. He’s teaching Chris Paul and Blake Griffin how to win at the highest levels. He’s turning DeAndre Jordan into a borderline star. And he’s even occasionally making bad front-office decisions. Even if the on-court results weren’t immediate, Rivers is clearly laying a positive framework.

All of this is a work in progress, and Rivers deserves a chance to see it through. His basketball acumen drew the Clippers in the first place, and Rivers’ knowledge of the game hasn’t slipped as the team has been sold. Ballmer sees it, too, and that’s why he prioritized keeping Rivers.

So far, because of Sterling, Rivers hasn’t gotten what he’s bargained for in Los Angeles. But now, Rivers will have a real chance to build the championship team he set out on creating.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.