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Former superteam members Paul Pierce, Doc Rivers criticize Kevin Durant joining Warriors

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Former NBAer Paul Pierce won his only championship ring by being a member of a superteam. A superteam that was traded for during a 33 day stretch in 2007 that sparked the modern superteam revolution in the NBA. Pierce and coach Doc Rivers were on the verge of getting run out of town after a 24-win season in 2006-07 thanks to years of middling finishes and only one conference finals appearance during Pierce’s tenure in Massachusetts. The superteam saved Pierce’s legacy.

So what does Pierce have to say about a current NBA player joining a superteam?

Let’s check in with Pierce, courtesy ESPN’s “The Jump” program.

Via Twitter:

This comes the same day that Rivers — who coached that 2008 Boston Celtics team — said on ESPN’s Mike & Mike radio show that he felt as though it wasn’t a competitive thing for Durant to do.

Via Sporting News:

“It is tough when you see a guy join a team — in Durant’s case what he did this year. That was tough for anybody, anybody’s that’s competitive, to watch. He lost, and then he joined. Having said that, it was his choice, I have no problem with him, but it’s something from a competitive standpoint, you would think you wouldn’t do.

“I have no problem with him doing it, it’s just something from a competitive point, for me, I guess when I played it would have been tough for me to join Detroit. Having said that, he has the ability to do it, guys are doing it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

At this point, if you’re done laughing at former Celtics players and coaches, I think it would be prudent to point out that it’s just as competitive to want to grind your opponents into dust until they have zero chance of ever beating you as it is to beat them outright.

Are the games competitive in a colloquial sense, meaning a close back-and-forth? No. But “being competitive” also means finding ways to dismantle your opponents. Apparently in today’s NBA that means joining the team that beat you so that you can shred the entire league for half a decade or so.

It’s dumb, but if you understand the “win over everything” attitude that has allowed fans to lionize players like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, this sort of seems like the next logical step. The only alternative would be some kind of insane altruistic campaign by the players to hold the parity of the league alive, veiled by the PR of beating your rivals instead of joining them.

Durant joining the Warriors is wack, and boring, and in no way being a “good sport”. It’s also his choice to do it, and if he wants to win a boatload of championship rings, a really good idea.

Just because others can’t compete doesn’t mean Kevin Durant isn’t competitive.

Meanwhile, hearing Pierce and Rivers complain about players joining a superteam will always be one of my favorite things to see.

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.

Report: Knicks won’t consider Isiah Thomas to run front office

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A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.

But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.

With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.

It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.

Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.

At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.

Raptors promote Bobby Webster to general manager

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TORONTO (AP) — With rumors swirling about the Knicks chasing Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have promoted Bobby Webster to general manager.

Webster, 32 years old assistant the youngest GM in the NBA, replaces Jeff Weltman, who left Toronto in May to become president of the Orlando Magic.

A former staffer at the NBA league office in New York, Webster joined the Raptors in 2013 and was named assistant GM in 2016.

He’ll help decide what to offer All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who opted out of the final year of his contract last month after Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round of the playoffs.

Forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all unrestricted free agents.

Also Wednesday, Toronto promoted Dan Tolzman to assistant general manager.

The Raptors have posted consecutive 50-win seasons and made four straight playoff appearances.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.