Clippers promote Gary Sacks, basically make him GM

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Blake Griffin has gotten what he wanted.

As had been rumored, the Clippers have promoted from within, announcing that 19-year Clipper veteran Gary Sacks is the new Vice President of Basketball Operations. So, while he is not formally the general manager, he is in practice the general manager.

“Gary has been a valuable and loyal member of our organization for the past 18 years,” Clippers’ President Andy Roeser said in a released statement. “His recent role this very productive summer, as well as his many contributions during the course of his tenure made it clear that he is the right person to lead our Basketball Operations Department.”

The Clippers lost former GM Neil Olshey to Portland earlier this summer. Olshey was key because he was part of the change of culture in the Clippers organization, now Sacks has to continue that.

This summer the Clippers player personnel moves — and they were pretty good ones — were made by a trio of men — Sacks, Roeser (who was the money/contract guy) and head coach Vinny Del Negro. Although, if you listen to the buzz around the league the real driving force was CAA — the firm that represents Chris Paul.

That is Sacks’ and the Clippers main job now — get Chris Paul to re-sign with the team after this season. It’s max money for CP3, that’s not the question. But Paul is as competitive a guy as there is in this league, he’s just not publicly demonstrative about it in the way Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett are. He wants to win, the Clippers need to convince Paul he can do that in Los Angeles.

Paul has to ask himself two questions: 1) Can the Clippers win a ring in the coming years, and do I trust this management to get the team there? 2) If I leave, where can I go that I have a better shot?

For the next five years or so it is likely the Thunder and the Heat that are the big hurdles to winning a ring, and in the West the Lakers have pushed into that position. Can the Clippers get there? Can Paul lead them there? If Paul jumped to the East Coast, where can a team offer him a max deal and still have the talent to challenge Miami?

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.