We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to be CP3 (who had a lot of influence over the Clips free agent moves last summer, too).
Don’t believe me? Ask Sterling.
Which is what T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times did, and Sterling’s answer was telling.
“The coach is a wonderful man, and I’m sad about the whole thing,” Sterling said.
“Was this done,” I asked, “just to hang on to Chris Paul?”
“I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true,” Sterling said. “So I’d rather not say anything. But you know, the coach did a really good job. I think he did. And I liked working with him. There are just factors that make life very complicated and very challenging.”
It’s easy to say the Clippers had the most success in their franchise history — last year making the second round of the playoffs, this season winning 56 games and the team’s first-ever Pacific Division title. Why mess with that?
But the Clippers won all those games not because of Del Negro but because Paul and Blake Griffin are the best players the Clippers have ever had. Talent wins in the NBA. Del Negro ran rather simplistic offensive sets and let Paul be the Peyton Manning kind of signal caller, which was smart. But Del Negro couldn’t get them farther — up against Memphis when the Clips needed more than just talent, when they needed adjustments and sets that played to their advantages the Clips had nothing to go to.
If 50-something wins and a few playoffs wins is enough for you, so be it. It wasn’t for Chris Paul.
And that will be good for the organization… if they make a smart hire now. You can bet CP3 will have influence in this choice as well.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are listing Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 4 of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.
Embiid has been bothered by a sore left knee, but was able to play in the first two games of the series. He warmed up before Game 3 on Thursday night before it was decided that he couldn’t play.
Embiid worked out Friday at the 76ers’ practice in New York but coach Brett Brown said he didn’t know and didn’t have a gut feeling about whether his All-Star center would be able to go Saturday afternoon.
The 76ers rolled to a 131-115 victory without Embiid and lead the series 2-1. Greg Monroe started at center and had nine points and 13 rebounds, although is role was limited as the game wore on.
Rob Pelinka seems to have all the front office power in Los Angeles — whether that is wise is another conversation entirely — and he is continuing full speed ahead with the search for the next Lakers’ coach.
Pelinka reportedly has already been in Philadelphia and met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams, who is still busy coaching a playoff team. Miami assistant coach Juwan Howard also reportedly in the mix and is supposed to meet with Pelinka next week.
Friday came the report Pelinka was about to meet with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This has been expected.
Lue and Williams are considered the frontrunners, and both have a relationship with LeBron James that would net a thumbs up from the Lakers’ star. Lue coached LeBron to a championship in Cleveland, and while a lot of casual fans like to rip his coaching by the end of his time with the Cavaliers he was running some pretty creative stuff and getting players into good matchups and positions.
Williams is a former Pelicans’ head coach who also has a strong relationship with Anthony Davis (not that the hiring of a coach would have any impact on where Davis is traded, however, if he leaves where he is traded as a free agent in 2020 the coach could be a factor). Williams has spent time in the Spurs front office and on the coaching bench for the Sixers and Thunder. Williams’ strength is the perception he is not LeBron’s guy, unlike Lue.
Wojnarowski also said that Lue is pushing back on the idea he is LeBron’s coach, saying he would be coaching the Lakers not just one player. In Cleveland, Lue had the trust of LeBron and that allowed the coach to challenge his star at points.
Minnesota may have settled on its coach for next season — Ryan Saunders seems to have a lock on the position — and are now working backward to hire his boss, the new president of basketball operations.
That could be former Pistons legend and current ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups, or Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon, both of whom have interviews coming up with Minnesota’s leadership, according to reports.
Billups has the most recognizable name of the group and a high basketball IQ, but he also has zero front office experience. While Billups has shown interest in other GM/basketball ops jobs before, there are some around the league questioning if Minnesota owner Glen Taylor is going to pay what it would take to get Billups out of ESPN. That said, there will at least be a conversation.
Minnesota also has met with Clippers GM Michael Winger, Rockets’ No. 2 Gersson Rosas, and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth. This is a strong lineup of people from the “guys who have paid their dues and deserve a shot” file.”
Whoever takes over the job will fill the shoes of Tom Thibodeau, who was let go mid-season and who hamstrung the roster with his win-now decisions. In the positives column, Minnesota has All-NBA level player in Karl-Anthony Towns at the heart of the roster. After KAT there is work to do. Andrew Wiggins will make $27.5 million next season and has four more seasons after that at max money (right now that contract is as close to untradable as any in the NBA). Gorgui Dieng will make $16.2 million, and Jeff Teague opted into his $19 million. Lowering the cost of this roster while turning the Timberwolves back into a playoff team will require a lot of creativity.
Kevin Durant and Patrick Beverley got two double technical fouls in the Warriors’ Game 1 win over the Clippers.
Though Golden State had the game in hand (really, unlike Game 2) by the time the players were ejected, the techs were a much bigger deal for the Warriors. Durant will stick around the playoffs long enough there’s a real risk of him getting seven technical fouls and automatic ejection.
That concern was heightened in the Warriors’ Game 3 win last night when Durant and JaMychal Green received double techs.
Durant, via Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“We were conversing about the play before, and then someone came out of nowhere and tech’d us both,” Durant explained to the media after the game. “Hopefully it gets rescinded.”
The NBA obliged:
Durant is back down to two technical fouls for the playoffs.