Report: Clippers hired Jerry West to help lure LeBron James

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Rumors are swirling that LeBron James will leave the Cavaliers for Los Angeles, either the Lakers or Clippers, in 2018.

The Clippers want to be prepared.

And that’s why they hired Jerry West as a consultant.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

The grand plan for West and his new Clippers colleagues, president of basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers and executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank? Targeting the biggest fish in next summer’s free agent sea: LeBron James.

According to two people with knowledge of the situation, West’s potential ability to improve the Clippers’ chances of landing the Cleveland Cavaliers star in free agency in the summer of 2018 was a significant factor in his hiring and in the willingness of owner Steve Ballmer to pay West between $4 and $5 million annually.

The Clippers’ first order of business is re-signing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, which won’t be easy with the Spurs (for Paul) and Celtics (for Griffin) swarming. Retaining Paul is particularly important, considering his friendship with LeBron. But keeping Griffin would also help the Clippers maintain their high level of play, a necessity when competing with the more prestigious Lakers.

The Clippers could also trade for Carmelo Anthony. LeBron has discussed a desire to play with Paul, Anthony and Dwyane Wade – even a willingness to take a pay cut to make it happen.

But how much of a pay cut?

If they trim their roster to just Paul and Griffin, the Clippers would still project to be fall short of having max cap space in 2018. DeAndre Jordan can also become a free agent that year, and the center is an important cog. LeBron joining for the mid-level exception?

This doesn’t even account for Anthony or exactly how the Clippers would drop Austin Rivers ($12,650,000 player option), Jamal Crawford ($3 million of $14.5 million guaranteed) and Wesley Johnson ($6,134,520) – all of whom have deals that run through 2018-19.

If LeBron wants to sign with the Clippers, they could always trade Griffin. It’d be hard, but possible, to build a championship contender from there. Griffin would fetch something.

It’s a grand plan, one West might be singularly qualified to execute. He brought Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant together with the Lakers when Shaq was the biggest free agent ever and teams picking higher than the Hornets (whom the Lakers traded with) wanted Kobe.

West also shares a bond with LeBron, which stems in part from their shared losing in the NBA Finals. LeBron, a student of the game, surely respects West – and probably appreciates how often West has publicly defended him.

There’s a long way between that mutual admiration and LeBron signing with Clippers. But the upside is so incredible, it’s a swing for the fences worth taking.

Besides, the Clippers’ road to LeBron looks similar to their optimal path forward anyway. Success starts with re-signing Paul and Griffin.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

Associated Press
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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.

Report: Clippers hiring ex-Cavaliers executive Trent Redden

AP Photo/Mark Duncan
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The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.

Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.

Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).

But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr: I expect to coach all season and for many years ahead

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.

Could those issues derail his career?

Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”

On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.

But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.