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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.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade on time they faced off 1-on-1: “We was out there killing each other”

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LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are good friends, they go together like peanut butter and jelly. They and their families hang out and ride banana boats together in the off-season.

They are also both incredibly competitive men.

So you had to figure they went 1-on-1 against each other at some point. It happened, once. Wade and LeBron talked about it on Channing Frye’s Road Trippin’ podcast(transcription via the USA Today).

James: “We played 1-on-1 one time in our whole life, and it was during the finals. Eastern Conference finals 2010 (they meant the 2010-11 season, that ECF was in May 2011). Our first year.”

Wade: “It was more-so to set a precedent for our teammates because we got our ass kicked the game before, Game 1 by Chicago. They tore us.”

James: “MVP Rose tore our ass up in Chicago, and we came in the next day, we was like we need to set the tone, so we was out there killing each other playing 1-on-1.”

Wade: “We never finished.”

James: “We never finished. We got to the point where (head coach Erik Spoelstra) blew the whistle, like bring it in.”

Wade: “Everybody was just watching us. We was going at it. We competitive, we was going at it, but we was setting a tone for this is how it’s gotta go. You gotta be able to go at this. We’re two of the best players in this game. We going at each other in the Eastern Conference finals right now. We out there killing each other, and this is what ya’ll better do tomorrow. Because we got beat on the boards by 20-something and we have to come with it, and we won four in a row.”

A 2011 Heat practice? There has to be video of this somewhere.

Miami did win that Eastern Conference Finals, but LeBron and Wade should have gone at it again during the NBA Finals, where the Heat lost to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.

Report: Rockets’ Luc Mbah a Moute expected to miss 2-3 weeks

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The Rockets’ rotation is excellent, and their deep bench is lacking.

That’s part of the reason Luc Richard Mbah a Moute posted a ridiculous +57 in a 30-point win earlier this season.

But Houston will miss the forward for a while after he injured his shoulder against the Hornets yesterday.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s first inclination might be to shorten his rotation. He should mostly resist it.

Home-court advantage is important, and P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza can play more power forward (with Eric Gordon absorbing more minutes at small forward). But it’s also better to play Troy Williams more now than to wear down the players Houston will rely on in the playoffs, when D’Antoni will surely keep his rotation tight.

PBT Podcast: Early trade deadline breakdown with Dan Feldman

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The NBA’s trade market did not collapse after the Jahlil Okafor trade.

There’s more to come, but with the trade deadline is less than two months away, we have more questions than answers. DeAndre Jordan very likely could be on the move from the Clippers (and Lou Williams, too). But what is Memphis going to do about Mark Gasol? New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins? Oklahoma City with Paul George? And if any of those guys are available, who is a buyer? Cleveland? Milwaukee? Portland?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down the high end of the trade market, plus talk about other guys who could be on the move — maybe Nikola Mirotic from Chicago, and what about someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Charlotte — before Feb. 8 gets here. The last couple of trade deadlines have been interesting, but will we see a move that changes the landscape of the NBA playoffs in a meaningful way?

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Joel Embiid calls out Karl Anthony-Towns’ defense during Instagram trash talk

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Joel Embiid often gloats on Instagram after 76ers wins.

Of course he did after Philadelphia beat Minnesota on Tuesday, specifically calling attention to this move on Karl-Anthony Towns (and this 76ers fan custom):

Embiid:

Towns commented:

That caption was as trash as your picture quality

Embiid replied:

Better quality than your defense

Embiid insisted it’s all in good fun.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBCS/status/941395953113804800

I’m not sure Towns is having as much fun as Towns. But I know this:

Embiid had a valid point.