Celtics plan Doc Rivers press conference, call it off. What does that mean? Who knows.

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At this point, the Celtics might as well invite the Ringling Brothers into this process, because their talks with the Clippers are already a circus.

Here is what we do know:

• The Clippers still want to do a deal with Boston that would pass muster with the league, something where the Clippers send picks in compensation for the rights to sign Doc Rivers right now. Then in a few weeks they would revisit any Kevin Garnett for DeAndre Jordan trade talks. But that would be totally separate. What could possibly give you the idea they are connected?

• The Celtics called a press conference for noon Eastern on Monday where Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge were to address the media (and you don’t really do that if the guy is leaving). But then that presser was abruptly called off and re-scheduled for Monday. That buys the Celtics and Clippers 72 more hours to talk, at least.

All that leaves us with is a ton of questions.

Was the Boston press conference a bluff to force the Clippers back to the table? If so, it worked, apparently.

Are the two sides really any closer to a deal?

Is there a deal the two sides could reach that the league would sign off on, or in three weeks or a month would the league squash a Garnett for Jordan trade?

Is there any way Rivers, Garnett and Paul Pierce could still come back to Boston for one more year? Does Rivers even want to come back?

How badly do the Clippers really want to do a deal? There is a theory among some around the league that the Clippers restarted talks because Chris Paul asked them to and they want to keep him happy so he will re-sign, but they don’t really want to give up this much so they are just going through the motions. People around the Clippers don’t buy that, but it’s out there.

This entire situation is a circus.

I will add this — if this doesn’t come together the teams have nobody to blame but themselves. There have been more leaks around this trade than the Titanic. Because of that it’s been in the media as a connected deal — Rivers, Garnett and Pierce to the Clippers for a variety of different packages headed back East — everyone knows what they were trying to do. Including the league office. If the sides had been quiet and the Clippers traded Jordan and a couple picks for Garnett, then a couple of weeks later Doc Rivers was let go and just ended up in Los Angeles, they might have been fine. But by te time everything had been leaked and there were all these discussions, it was obvious it was all linked.

They shot themselves in the foot on this one.

 

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.