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How Iman Shumpert became reason DeAndre Jordan to Cleveland fell apart

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As late as the morning of the NBA Trade deadline a week ago, I continued to hear from sources what other reporters had said for days — the Cavaliers were still in serious talks with the Los Angeles Clippers about bringing in DeAndre Jordan, and the sides were trying to find a third team to make it work. It made sense. Cleveland needed a roster shakeup to inject energy into a stale lineup, they needed defense, and Jordan would bring both. He was the biggest name on the board.

However, by the end of that fateful Thursday Jordan was still a Clipper and Cavaliers GM Koby Altman had gone to three other trades — ones with the Lakers, Jazz, Kings, and Heat — to blow up a stale roster and get it younger and more athletic. It was a bold stroke that so far has paid off with an energized LeBron James and a couple of quality wins.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN detailed how Altman went from going hard at Jordan to a more radical plan. The big stumbling block turned out to be Iman Shumpert.

What’s more, there was significant progress: Altman had ownership approval to send the Clippers Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick for Jordan. The Clippers were willing to accept the trade, but on one significant condition.

Clippers general manager Michael Winger explained to Altman that LA didn’t want another shooting guard. He hoped to find a third team that would take Shumpert and his $21 million with draft compensation, and have the Clippers get a center back. Altman and Winger agreed to make more calls to try to find a third team to make the deal work. Winger wondered whether Altman would let him talk to Shumpert’s agent on a possible contract buyout, but Altman wanted trade talks to be further along before granting that permission.

Clippers president Lawrence Frank, Winger and Altman had talked for weeks on a trade, but they got nowhere. The Clippers wouldn’t take Tristan Thompson, JR Smith or Shumpert in a deal, and that never changed.

No third team could be found, and the Clippers fell out of the plans Thursday and the other trades that had been percolating in the background started to solidify. Cleveland went another direction.

In the end, it left the Clippers with Jordan and a legitimate chance to climb into the 7 or 8 seed in the West playoffs this season (fivethirtyeight.com says the Clippers have a 54 percent chance of getting into the postseason).

It also left the Clippers with a big question: What do they do about Jordan this summer when he hits free agency? Pay big money to keep him and put enough of a team around him to battle for a bottom half of the West playoff slot for years? Let him walk, trade Lou Williams, and rebuild? Owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t want to bottom out, so everything is on the table. If this trade had gone through, the decision would have been made.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.