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Rumor: If Clippers get bounced in first or second round, Doc Rivers could be headed to Orlando

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The Los Angeles Clippers, in the words of J.J. Redick, are playing like s—. They are going to start the playoffs on the road, if they can hold on to the five seed they will get a good Jazz team (which beat Los Angeles last week), then survive that and the Clippers face a Warriors team that has beaten them up consistently for the past few years. If they keep slipping, Oklahoma City could pass Los Angeles, meaning the Clippers get the Rockets in the first round.

If the Clippers get bounced in the first or second round of the playoffs again, that will be six years into the Blake Griffin/Chris Paul era where the Clippers have not advanced past the second round. Griffin, Paul, and Redick are all free agents this summer, does Steve Ballmer want to fork out all that money and keep paying Doc Rivers for a team that remains in the second tier in the West? How do they get better if they don’t bring them back? There will be a lot of soul searching to do for Los Angeles.

All of this has led to speculation around the league about the fate of the Clippers — and the fate of Doc Rivers. Marc Stein of ESPN sums that up.

There has been persistent chatter for weeks over the NBA’s front-office grapevine that the Orlando Magic and Rivers will explore a reunion down the road.

Now, you’re certainly not alone if you’re wondering whether “down the road” in this case should be measured in months or years….

The Magic, meanwhile, appear headed for their own sooner-rather-than-later shake up. League sources say without hesitation that Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan finds himself on the hot seat and is increasingly likely to be dismissed at season’s end, with the Magic on course for a fifth successive losing season under Hennigan’s watch.

The Magic just hired Frank Vogel as coach this year on a five-year deal, and he is not going anywhere in the short term. Or, he shouldn’t be. The Magic should hire a GM/president who can work with Vogel to turn the quality young players the Magic have — Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier (if you’re sold on him, he’s played much better of late) — into a team that can compete. Is Doc Rivers that guy, or is he a coach and GM (the power he has in Los Angeles) that the Magic may want. It should be noted Rivers has a home in Orlando.

The one sure thing in Los Angeles is the Clippers will bring Chris Paul back, that’s considered a lock around the league. Griffin likely returns to, although if someone gets traded it’s him. The question is, in talking to CP3, does he want Rivers or does he want another voice as coach? Is coaching really the answer for the Clippers? They need to stay healthy, but it’s certainly not Rivers’ workload that is the problem there (no team gets as much time off, as many practices canceled as the Clips).

It’s very likely the Clippers are gone in the first two rounds of the playoffs, which after a 14-2 start to the season where it seemed they turned the corner will come as a major disappointment. And it will leave a lot of questions to be answered.

J.J. Redick: Clippers lost joy

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J.J. Redick and the Clippers seemed done with each other before free agency even began.

Redick – who signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the 76ers – gave Uninterrupted a behind-the-scenes look into his free agency. In the above video, he revealed plenty about his situation in L.A.:

It’s s—y to say this, but I think I’ve had a loss of joy. I look at our team and how we play, and it’s just there’s no joy in it. That bothers me.

On June 29th at about 10 p.m., I got a call from Lawrence Frank from the Clippers. I jokingly call it my breakup call. He just told me they weren’t going to offer me a contract. I wasn’t going to be back.

There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Blame Chris Paul for not relenting enough in his grating perfectionism and being petty. Blame Blake Griffin for being aloof about weight of his actions. Blame Paul and Griffin for waiting too long to get serious about bonding. Blame Doc Rivers for bringing in Austin Rivers and inviting accusations of nepotism. Blame Doc Rivers for too long setting a tone of whining.

Blame a tough Western Conference and injury for keeping a team with championship aspirations from never advancing past the second round. Blame familiarity, which bred contempt over several years with the same core.

Whomever or whatever you blame, the outcome seems tough to dispute: The Clippers looked joyless by the end of their run. Redick saying it only confirms the perception.

I’m curious whether he’ll find more joy in Philadelphia. A new situation will be refreshing, and the 76ers – young and talented – are hungry. Expectations are low after years of tanking, so even modest gains will be celebrated. But they’re also worse than the Clippers were, and losing more often will be an adjustment.

To get a better idea where Redick is coming from as he begins in Philadelphia, I recommend watching the video in full. It’s quite illuminating.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry: Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo will both start

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After signing Jrue Holiday to a massive contract, the Pelicans added Rajon Rondo while putting out word that the two point guards would play together.

They won’t just play together. They’ll start together.

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry confirmed the plan on Dunc & Holder then expanded (hat tip: Mason Ginsberg of Bourbon Street Shots):

I like Jrue off the ball to start the game as a scorer. I like Rondo being on the floor as a leader. Now, obviously, Jrue is going to play some where he’s the primary ball-handler. I spoke to Jrue at length about this, and I think it’s something that can really help us.

Holiday’s value is maximized at point guard. He’s better than Rondo, and it’s generally better to give the ball more often to the better point guard.

But Holiday can defend multiple positions and work off the ball. Rondo can’t. New Orleans is short on wings, so shifting Holiday there is a reasonable option.

Rondo is a minus shooter for his position, but Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have improved their range immensely. This won’t necessarily be a prohibitively cluttered starting lineup. Paying a starter just $3.3 million is a bargain – one the Pelicans needed considering their self-inflicted constraints. They couldn’t afford someone who’d create no complications. I just think the difficulties causes by starting Rondo are manageable.

The bigger question is what New Orleans does on the wing beyond E'Twaun Moore. Solomon Hill and Dante Cunningham (who’s unsigned but whose Bird Rights are still held by New Orleans) are better at power forward. Darius Miller is far from a proven NBA commodity. Quincy Pondexter can seemingly never get healthy.

If Quinn Cook is ready for the rotation, that could help. He could play when Rondo sits and allow Holiday to spend all his time at shooting guard. But I’m not sure Holiday is ready to cede all his minutes at point guard, the higher-profile position. (I’m also unsure Cook is ready to play regularly.)

Starting Holiday at shooting guard mitigates the wing problem, but it doesn’t solve it. There are still too many wing minutes to go around, and New Orleans is running out of money to spend – both with exceptions and below the luxury-tax line.

76ers second-rounder Jonah Bolden signs in Israel

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Jonah Bolden – No. 16 on my draft board – slipped all the way to the 76ers at No. 36 in the NBA draft. An impressive summer league has raised his stock significantly.

But Philadelphia won’t reap the rewards this season.

Bolden signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The club also said the deal contained NBA outs and the 76ers helped facilitate his move from his previous team, Red Star in Serbia.

This is a helpful arrangement for Philadelphia, which is running out of roster spots. Bolden will develop elsewhere while allowing the 76ers’ to maintain his exclusive negotiating rights.

Bolden must get stronger and more adept at handling physicality. The athletic stretch four can also continue developing his burgeoning perimeter skills.

Then, next year, maybe the 76ers will have room to sign him themselves.

Anthony Davis does #DriveByDunkChallenge (video)

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If you’re not up with what the kids are doing, the cool thing this summer is the #DriveByDunkChallenge – driving to random houses, running out of a still-running car, dunking on their basketball hoop, running back into the car then driving off.

It sounds like a lot of fun for those who can dunk (and don’t get accosted by startled homeowners). An example:

Pelicans star Anthony Davis took his turn: