Dan Feldman

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Rumor: Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers’ work ethic not up to snuff


Doc Rivers was supposed to put the Clippers over the top.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were bona fide stars. DeAndre Jordan became a third star, and J.J. Redick thrived in a complementary role.

But Rivers’ Clippers never advanced further than Vinny Del Negro’s Clippers, topping out in the second round. Paul left for the Rockets, sparking numerous theories of what went wrong in L.A.:

Poor team chemistry. Western Conference being too good. Bad luck. Favoritism toward Austin Rivers.

Here’s another potential culprit.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Rivers remains charming, but team sources say his work ethic as a coach and executive lags far behind the championship rep he built on the shoulders of veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Insiders complained about a lack of accountability — about practices and shootarounds starting late

Rivers would be far from the first person to rest on his laurels after securing a loftier job. Is that the case here? This ignores the heavy burden Rivers carried in guiding the franchise through the Donald Sterling scandal. I can’t speak definitively to Rivers’ work ethic outside that crisis, but the fact that these leaks – true or not – are even getting out shows Rivers isn’t running the tightest ship.

Rivers’ multiple job titles only exacerbate the potential problem.

Coaching well takes immense work. Running a front office well takes immense work. I’m not sure any one person can successfully handle both tasks. Someone with a poor work ethic definitely can’t.

There is some circumstantial evidence to support these claims, especially for Rivers as executive. Even in a desirable market with a contending team, he routinely failed to find the quality role players who could put a good team over the top. Rivers frequently targeted players he previously coached or who played well against his teams in the playoffs, which always felt lazy.

The Clippers have added front-office help, shifting Lawrence Frank upstairs and hiring Jerry West. Maybe that will allow Rivers to focus more on coaching – a necessity this year.

Paul is a basketball genius and natural leader. He practically demands everyone get in line behind him.

With his departure, L.A. has built an intriguing hodgepodge around Griffin, adding Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers are now a team without an identity, but with a roster of versatile players that could go in any number of directions.

It’s on Rivers to experiment, assess and ultimately pick a style. Whatever happened in the past, the next step will require a lot of work.

Report: Carmelo Anthony dismayed over trade developments

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Remember when Carmelo Anthony was confident he’d be traded to the Rockets?

It’s almost as if he forgot he played for one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchises.

The Knicks have paused trade talks with Houston, reportedly because they hope Anthony – who possesses a no-trade clause – will accept a trade to a team he wants to join less than the Rockets. Maybe finalizing terms to hire Scott Perry will get the ball rolling, but for now, Anthony is left in limbo.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Anthony is concerned about his public image and doesn’t want a messy divorce from the Knicks. He is said to be dismayed over the events of the past 24 hours.

Anthony has already put up with so much from the Knicks. Ousting Phil Jackson obviously didn’t end Anthony’s troubles.

But, remember, Anthony chose to sign with the Knicks in 2014 knowing full well what he was he was getting into. He can block a trade, maybe even demand one (and take the subsequent fine). But he can’t force one. He chose the money and all that comes with it.

Report: Celtics sign D-League Rookie of the Year Abdel Nader to four-year, $6 million contract

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Abdel Nader – the No. 58 pick in the 2016 NBA draft – could have forced the Celtics’ hand by signing the required tender (a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, teams must extend to retain a second-rounder’s draft rights) last summer. In a roster crunch, Boston would have likely waived Nader and let him hit unrestricted free agency. It’s also possible the Celtics would have found a spot for him, in which case he’d be a free agent this summer.

Instead, Nader declined the required tender and signed with the D-League to play for Boston’s affiliate, allowing the Celtics to retain his exclusive NBA rights.

He had an excellent season – Nader won D-League Rookie of the Year – and would hold interest around the NBA. But he’s still stuck negotiating with only Boston.

After doing the Celtics this tremendous favor last year, Nader is betting against himself this year and allowing Boston to reap the potential rewards.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

A four-year minimum contract would pay Nader $5,123,913. So, it seems he secured a little more than that.

In exchange, he granted Boston control of his career for the next four years at a low – probably not fully guaranteed – salary.

That might be a fine tradeoff. For all the intrigue he has generated, Nader is still a former late second-rounder who turns 24 before the season begins. There’s no guarantee he becomes an NBA contributor.

At 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Nader is a versatile perimeter player, especially defensively. He’ll have to adjust from a major role offensive in Maine to be a role player in the NBA, but that might help his efficiency.

If Nader pans out, the Celtics will derive plenty of value from him. If not, it won’t cost them much to move on.

Report: Knicks sending second-rounder, cash to Kings for Scott Perry


The Knicks agreed to hire Scott Perry from the Kings.

But Perry, having been hired fewer than three months ago, was still under contract in Sacramento. So, the Kings will get compensation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

That’s a hefty price for a No. 2 in the front office. Perry will hold the title of general manager in New York, but all indications are Steve Mills will run basketball operations as team president.

Front-office titles can be wonky. Some presidents handle just the business side, leaving the general manager to assemble the roster. Some teams don’t have presidents at all, and the general manager is clearly in charge of basketball. Other general managers are really like assistant general managers elsewhere.

How much influence Perry will have remains to be seen. It would be very Knicks to send the Kings so much then barely get much from him.

After all, this is a team paying a lot of money to Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas. The Knicks just entered into a massive four-year deal with Tim Hardaway Jr., too. Carmelo Anthony is (was?) on the trade block. Kristaps Porzingis is the jewel among the wreckage, but even he is dismayed by the state of affairs.

No matter his exact role, Perry is in for a major undertaking.

The job isn’t much easier for Vlade Divac and crew in Sacramento, but at least the Kings will get an extra pick. That can’t hurt.

Report: Nick Collison signing one-year deal with Thunder

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Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Tony Parker (Spurs), Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Udonis Haslem (Heat) and Nick Collison (SuperSonics/Thunder) are the only active players to have played more than 10 seasons all with the same team.

Collison isn’t leaving the club.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Collison has played just 13 years in the NBA [update: after spending his first year sidelined by injury]. It’s unclear whether Charania just got a number mixed up or whether Collison plans to play two more seasons.

Presumably, Collison will make the minimum, because, unless the Thunder are willing to hard-cap themselves, that’s the most they can offer and it’s because that’s the most Collison is worth. He’ll earn $2,328,652, though Oklahoma City will pay and be taxed at just $1,471,382. (The league covers the rest for veterans on one-year minimum deals.)

The 36-year-old Collison looked done last year, playing just 128 minutes in 20 games. At least he appears to be well-liked and a helpful veteran in the locker room.

At worst, injuries will press Collison into playing time that could have gone to someone who still possesses NBA athleticism. At best, he’ll sell Paul George on why he likes Oklahoma City so much.