Rumor: Clippers would like to get in Paul George conversation

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Doc Rivers has said he wants to bring everyone back this summer — free agents Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick — but we also know that’s not likely. Steve Ballmer may have 10,000 lifetimes worth of money, but is he willing to have one of the highest payroll/luxury tax bills in the league to run the same group back again?

What if they could land Paul George to fit with some/all of that core?

It’s a crazy longshot — the Clippers don’t have the assets to get in the conversation seriously — but they would like to, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. The Clippers wanted in the George conversation back at the trade deadline (when the Pacers were not serious about dealing him).

Among them, league sources told Sporting News, are the Clippers, who have three significant free agents — Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick — and are desperate to add a player who could change their perennial postseason disappointment. The Clippers have expressed interest in George.

Any team trading for George would be gambling that it could persuade him to stay in free agency, and not bolt for the Lakers in 2018. That limits the teams Indiana can deal with to a handful of contenders or teams willing to take a risk. The Clippers have slipped in their status as contenders, but they’re not risk-averse and can get George to Los Angeles, if not with the Lakers. The Clippers could work out a three-team trade to accommodate a guy like Redick or Griffin.

Would Jerry West sign off on this? Depends on the deal. It’s obvious why the Clippers want in the George dance. If they can pair George with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, that might be a team that could reach the Conference Finals. Maybe. But for a Clippers team who sees a small window to be a threat, they might as well go for it. And maybe George likes playing with CP3 enough to re-sign with the team next summer.

But why would the Pacers do it? They reportedly want a couple first round picks and a young rotation player in the deal (they’re not going to get that much, but that’s what they are asking for). The Clippers don’t have a first-round pick they can trade until 2021 (their 2017 goes to Toronto, 2019 to Boston, and teams can’t trade their lone first rounder in consecutive years). Also, even if you could get Griffin to agree to a sign-and-trade with a Pacers team set to rebuild — and good luck with that — Indy would just have to flip him in another deal, because he’s not part of anyone’s rebuilding plans. The Clippers don’t have much else on the roster to offer — Austin Rivers at $11.8 million, or 37-year-old Jamal Crawford — that will interest anyone.

It’s going to be a very interesting summer for the Clippers, it feels like the West hiring was the first domino in a few changes coming to the franchise. They still may want to win now, and George would help with that, but they aren’t going to get him, the Pacers will have better offers.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.