The Celtics and Clippers are still discussing the trade that would send Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to Los Angeles, but the whole deal is predicated on Rivers wanting to coach the Clippers.
So, even if the Celtics and Clippers agree how to handle Eric Bledsoe, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, Rivers still must give his approval, which might not happen. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe
Meanwhile, a source close to Rivers told the Globe that Rivers is still grappling with the decision, especially as the trade gets more complicated and negotiations more contentious. The talk of the Clippers acquiring Paul Pierce in the trade are remote, especially since the Celtics would have to honor his deal and send him to the Clippers with a $15 million salary.
Why would Rivers turn this down? Coaching Garnett and Paul Pierce with a better supporting cast seems ideal for him. Washburn explains a possible hang-up:
And don’t expect the Celtics to waive Pierce just to see him sign with the Clippers during free agency. If they decide to trade Pierce, and NBA sources said the team is open to the possibility, they want a return for his services unless waiving him will allow him enough salary cap space to sign a solid free agent.
At a certain point – if it hasn’t already passed – Rivers returning to Boston will be more trouble than it’s worth. He’s essentially telling every Celtic besides Garnett and Pierce he doesn’t want to coach them.
Rivers obviously prioritizes coaching Garnett and Pierce, but if he can bring only Garnett to Los Angeles, that could change the equation. How likely is Pierce to end up with the Clippers, and would Rivers accept that risk? That’s the question the coach must ask himself – just so he’s prepared if the teams ever agree to a trade.
LeBron James is a smart man, one who knows what his empire is built upon:
And him being better than anyone else in the world at it.
While his post-career life is in Los Angeles — his production company has “The Wall” on NBC, is in the early stages of putting together an NBC comedy about the family life of Ben Simmons, is producing “The Shop” on HBO, is making “Space Jam 2” with LeBron as the star, and more — do not suggest to LeBron that might get in the way of basketball.
“I’m a basketball player. I play ball, that’s what I do,” LeBron said earlier in his press conference. “That’s what I live by and when I do it at the level I do it at everything else takes care of itself.
“As far as my business, those things have been taking care of themselves long before I came out here to be part of the Lakers franchise.”
LeBron is right about that. His production company — led by Maverick Carter — has been working on Space Jam for a couple of years now, and if LeBron had decided to stay in Cleveland or sign in Philadephia or anywhere else that project would still be going forward. They’d still be filming next summer in the off-season, regardless of where he played.
LeBron is very good at compartmentalizing his life. The great ones are. Kobe Bryant had side projects, but it never slowed down the effort he put into the game. Same is going on right now with Stephen Curry and James Harden. Michael Jordan did it before them, and Magic Johnson before him. Those guys have brands that are empires of their own now, but they all know what the foundation of that success is.
And they don’t let anything get in the way of basketball. Not like that.
The Knicks season should be about laying a foundation. They’ll remain patient with their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, returning from injury. They said they won’t trade draft picks.
But they’ve also paid enough lip service to competing this season to, um, excite Enes Kanter.
We’ll be sure to check in on the softness of Kanter’s nipples when the Knicks miss the playoffs by dozens of games.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly ordered team president Tom Thibodeau to trade Jimmy Butler, who is excused from participating in media day and training camp (apparently because of his hand injury).
But Thibodeau isn’t rushing to proclaim Butler will be dealt.
Chris Hine of the StarTribune:
Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune:
If Butler isn’t traded in the next week, this could get incredibly awkward. Would Butler report? If he does, how would Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each react?
I expect this to be moot. The odds are stacked highly in favor of Minnesota dealing Butler soon.
But, now, there’s a close deadline with even more drama looming on the other side.
The Lakers’ front office insists they’re trying to beat the Warriors.
Los Angeles’ newest star, LeBron James, isn’t there yet.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. “They can pick up right where they left off.
“We’re picking up from scratch. So, we have a long way to go. … Hopefully, someday, we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship, as Golden State has done for the last few years.”
How will LeBron – who has won three titles in the last seven years and reached the NBA Finals the last eight years – react if the Lakers aren’t on that level this season?
“I don’t believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship,” LeBron said. “There’s only one champion. But that doesn’t mean you’re not successful.”
LeBron has made similar arguments before, and I agree with him. Championships are the most important measure of team success, but they’re not the only measure. There are plenty of ways for teams to satisfactorily grow and compete in a season.
But this sure didn’t sound like the same LeBron who said in June of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title, “It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode.” A key storyline in Los Angeles will be whether/when LeBron regains that hunger.