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Carmelo Anthony on playing for Clippers: “There was an opportunity during the deadline”

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If Phil Jackson had been direct with Carmelo Anthony and his people, come to them back in January and said, “we want to go another direction, and we want to help you find a trade destination that works for both of us” this whole thing could have been avoided. Instead, Jackson played mind games trying to get Anthony to waive his no-trade clause, and Anthony dug in his heels. So Anthony is still in NYC, and the wheels have come off the team.

Could there have been a deadline trade with the Clippers, a destination Anthony would reportedly accept? He suggested so in a conversation with Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“Nah, don’t start,’’ Anthony said when asked if he envisions making L.A. his workplace. “I haven’t thought about it. There was an opportunity during the deadline. There was always talk the last couple of seasons being connected to Clippers or Lakers. Somehow always been connected. First it was the Lakers. Now it’s the Clippers situation. I try not to think about it — especially now when I’m still playing with the New York Knicks and got to prepare to play against these guys.’’

There are 13 games left before Anthony’s critical exit meeting with Knicks president Phil Jackson. According to a source, Jackson hopes Anthony is at least open to seeing if the Knicks can find an agreeable trade in the summer.

There are two things here.

The big one is about the potential of Jackson asking Anthony if he is open to a trade this summer. That has been kind of expected, and Anthony sounds like a guy ready to move on, but Jackson needs to go through the process and work with ‘Melo and his team on this. I expect we will see Anthony moved this summer.

Maybe to the Clippers, which brings me to the second thing out of Anthony’s comments. At the deadline the Clippers were making a lowball offer — no Chris Paul, no Blake Griffin, and not even J.J. Redick were part of a trade. It was Jamal Crawford (at age 37), Austin Rivers, and whatever else is left at the end of the Clippers roster (they don’t have a first-round pick they can trade for three years). Jackson should never have taken that offer.

The Clippers very likely will have a lot of questions to answer this summer, especially after they get bounced in the first round (by the Jazz, that is a toss up series) or the second round by the Warriors. Paul, Griffin, and Redick are all free agents, how much is owner Steve Ballmer willing to pay to bring them all back? Should they bring them all back? Should Doc Rivers give up his GM role and focus on coaching? There is a lot of soul searching for the Clippers to do, and where Anthony does or does not fit into all of that is a separate topic.

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.

Chris Paul fakes shot, fakes pass, sends Plumlee spinning (VIDEO)

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One more highlight from Thursday night we just had to pass along.

With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, it was a bit of Chris Paul against the world when the Clippers took on the Nuggets. In this case, Mason Plumlee got switched on to CP3, who shot faked, then faked a pass, all of which got Plumlee spun around and gave Paul room to knock down the jumper.

Denver went on to get the win 129-114, and it wasn’t even that close.

J.J. Redick on Clippers: “We’ve been s— since the All-Star break”

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The Los Angeles Clippers are going to start the playoffs on the road, and will have a tough trek through the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, they would begin the postseason in Salt Lake City against a Jazz team that just beat them on Monday. The Clippers are the five seed and three games back of the Jazz, Los Angeles isn’t catching them and getting home court. In fact, their bigger concern is in the rear-view mirror — Oklahoma City is just half a game back of Los Angeles now. Fall to the six seed and Los Angeles would face a very dangerous Rockets team in the first round.

This is a Clippers team with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan — how are they starting the playoffs on the road? How have they dropped three games in a row when they should be making a push toward the playoffs? Don’t ask Redick, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register did, because the shooting guard doesn’t know.

“I don’t know what to expect from this team anymore,” veteran guard J.J. Redick said, fuming. “We’re in a bad place right now. We’re losing games. We’ve been s— since the All-Star break.”

Since the All-Star break, the Clippers are 5-8, having been outscored by their opponents by 3.8 points per 100 possessions. The offense has been okay (10th in the NBA since the break), but the defense has been a disaster, giving up 112.4 points per 100, 29th in the NBA. For some perspective, the Lakers have the worst defense in the NBA for the season and they give up 110.7 per 100.

A lot of things have slowed the Clippers this season, a combination of injuries and the team not having much depth around their stars. Which sounds familiar.

There is a good chance the Clippers get bounced in the first round this postseason (do not sleep on how good Utah is and how they are defending). Even if it’s another second round exit (beat the Jazz and the Clippers would face the Warriors) the Clippers will have a lot of questions to answer this summer. Paul, Griffin, and Reddick are all free agents, how much is Steve Ballmer willing to pay to bring them all back? If they do head deep into the luxury tax to keep them all, are the Clippers a good team hoping the breaks just go their way one year (like the 2011 Mavericks)? Is that the right long-term move.

It’s going to be an interesting summer in Los Angeles.

Will Dwyane Wade be a Chicago Bull next season?

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Dwyane Wade has expressed his frustration with the Bulls this season — both with teammates and management. He’s also not seeming to take head coach Fred Hoiberg very seriously. It all points to a big question:

Will Dwyane Wade be a Chicago Bull next season?

He has said he will consider opting out, but will not make any call until the season is over.

I can think of 23.8 million reasons Wade could be back as a Bull next season — that is how much his player option is for, and it’s unlikely he would make that much on the open market (although he could get a multi-year deal and more security). Also, Chicago is his hometown and he has been active off the court in his city, he may not want to walk away from that. He may not want to leave playing with Jimmy Butler.

Rival executives are not so convinced that’s enough, reports Ken Berger of Bleacher Report (in a must-read piece about the dysfunction in Chicago).

Wade, 35, has a player option for next season. Given the tumult in Chicago, rival executives believe it’s reasonable to expect Wade may want out—despite the $23.8 million he is owed if he stays.

The question is, how strong would the market for a 35-year-old two guard with questionable knees be? He is averaging 18.8 points a game, he can still create shots for himself and others, and he’s still a good player on the perimeter. He has real value, but how much will teams pay for it?

There are some contending teams — Cavaliers, Clippers, others — that would have an interest in Wade as a free agent, but only if he was willing to take a considerable pay cut. To use the examples cited, LeBron James may not care, but Cavaliers already have the NBA’s highest payroll. The Clippers need to shell out this summer to retain Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick (all of whom would be more important on the court to the Clippers than Wade).

What other teams are out there might offer remains to be seen.

Wade likely has not made up his mind yet, he will get to the off-season then make his call. He’s going to need to decide what matters most to him in the balance of money/winning/playing with friends. He can’t have everything, so what is it that drives him now?