Clippers looking to add a piece before lockout starts

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Here’s a sign of progress for the Clippers: They want to make trades so they can win now. They want to be in the playoffs next year.

They like their core — Blake Griffin gives them a star, then they have Mo Williams at the point, Erik Gordon at the two, and the combo of DeAndre Jordan and Chris Kaman at center. GM Neil Olshey told Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld that the goal is to build around Griffin.

“This is not unlike the drill in San Antonio when they had Tim Duncan or Cleveland with LeBron or guys like that,” said Olshey. “You have to put right pieces around him but you don’t have to find ‘the piece’ because it’s here.”

That we’re talking about building a serious playoff team for the Cliipers is a start.

But now it’s time for the next step.

“We need an impact veteran,” said Neil. “A guy with leadership skills that has won at a high level that can show Eric and Blake how not just to get in the playoffs but how to be a factor in the playoffs.”

What they really need is an impact guy at the three, their gaping hole. Olshey sounded like a guy looking to deal around the draft, to make a move now not in the frenzy that will follow the lockout.

“We’ve got $5.3 million in cap room right now to do an uneven deal,” said Olshey. “We’ve got the Minnesota pick unprotected in 2012. We’ve got two second-round picks. We’ve got our first-protected to 10 next year. So we’ve got a lot of deal-making assets.”

Look for the Clippers to be active around the draft (they do not have a first-round pick this year, they moved it to Cleveland in the Baron Davis deal). For the first time in a long time there is legitimate hope for the Clippers, and they want to turn that hope into reality sooner rather than later.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr downplays argument with Jordan Bell (video)

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So much went right for the Warriors in their blowout of the Lakers on Monday.

But there were a couple snags. Stephen Curry slipping and falling and air-balling. And Steve Kerr and Jordan Bell arguing on the bench.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

Kerr, visibly upset, addressed the matter but kept his comment brief and vague.

“It was a total misinterpretation of something I said,” he said, “and we cleared it up.”

Kerr surely would like to think this is the end of it, as would Bell. And perhaps it is. But there have been questions about Bell’s commitment and habits dating back to at least the middle of his rookie season.

Coaches and players say a lot of things quickly during games. A comment being misinterpreted and causing an overreaction isn’t the end of the world.

But it usually doesn’t lead to an exchange that looks so heated. That Bell thought Kerr said something so off-putting toward him – whether Kerr actually did or didn’t – is telling.

After a promising rookie season, Bell has declined this year. He’s not even a permanent member of the rotation. With DeMarcus Cousins returning, Bell could be even further deemphasized.

Bell has potential as a versatile defender who finishes above the rim and moves the ball well. Golden State could particularly maximize his skill set.

First, Bell – who’ll be a free agent this summer – must show he’s on the same page as his coach.

Celtics play themselves with Al Horford tweets

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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The Celtics eventually deleted the first one, but these two Al Horford tweets back-to-back are a masterpiece:

screenshot-twitter.com-2019.01.22-15-54-57

Russell Westbrook beefs with Damian Lillard, Evan Turner, Jusuf Nurkic (video)

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Russell Westbrook neared peak Russell Westbrook last night.

During the Thunder’s win over the Trail Blazers, he talked trash to Damian Lillard and exchanged pointed laughs and words with Jusuf Nurkic. Westbrook also scored 29 points, dished 14 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds. After the game, he mocked Evan Turner for stealing his trademark rock-the-baby celebration and called Nurkic a “clown” (to which Nurkic responded online by calling the Oklahoma City star “Westbrick”).

For better or worse – mostly better last night – Westbrook always brings that same energy to everything he does.

Frustrated Luka Doncic tears jersey (video)

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Luka Doncic has been showing his anger lately – kicking a ball into the stands and, last night, tearing his jersey entering halftime. At least that last outburst didn’t get him ejected.

Doncic got a fresh jersey for the second half and helped the Mavericks beat the Clippers, 106-98.