Chris Kaman set to return tonight

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You may have forgotten, but the Clippers have had a starting-level center in their back pocket all along. Chris Kaman has played just eight games this season for Los Angeles, but the once quasi-All-Star is apparently ready for his first NBA action since December 5th. Here’s what Kaman had to say on Twitter:

I will be getting back on the court tonight with limited minutes but it will feel good to play.

Works for me, and it should work for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan is a fascinating player, but Kaman — when healthy and in-rhythm, which we won’t see until after the All-Star break at the very earliest — is a far more reliable center option. If L.A.’s short-term performance was of any consequence, then Kaman’s return would mean a great deal.

However, the Clippers have dropped in stock since Eric Gordon injured the wrist on his shooting hand, and any microscopic chance they once had at securing a playoff berth has dissipated. This year’s Clippers, with or without Kaman, are a lottery team. Thus, Kaman’s return is less about improving the Clippers’ interior and more about increasing the value of a trade chip. As our own Kurt Helin noted several weeks ago, Kaman has become a tradable commodity, and in their continued rebuilding efforts the Clippers would very much like to cash in on Kaman’s value.

The trade deadline inches closer and closer, and Kaman’s return coincides with L.A.’s last game before the All-Star break, a convenient time for general managers to engage in all kinds of trade discussions. I’m not sure how willing teams will be to take on the $12.7 million Kaman is owed next season (in that way, his situation parallels that of Antawn Jamison in Cleveland; both are interesting players for a contender to potentially acquire, but with a hefty price that extends beyond this season and into the new CBA), but competent centers who can provide interior scoring aren’t exactly stocked in convenience store aisles.

Kaman is undoubtedly a useful player, but teams will have to think long and hard about whether acquiring him is worth the potential price.

Scottie Pippen on LeBron James, Michael Jordan: “It’s not a fair comparison”

AP
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The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.

And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.

James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.

But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.

In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).

Via Twitter:

That sounds right to me.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

Associated Press
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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.