Report: Doc Rivers to “no longer pursue” effort to become Clippers coach

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Looks like Doc Rivers will not be coaching the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

The on-again-off-again negotiations between the Clippers and Celtics are off again, and Rivers wants off the roller coaster as Boston officials feel there is no deal to be made, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

After talks failed again on Friday, the Boston Celtics’ Doc Rivers will no longer pursue the Los Angeles Clippers’ coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Rivers will make a choice between returning to the Celtics for his 10th season as coach or leaving for television, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

“The deal is completely dead,” a source directly involved in the talks said Friday.

I would paraphrase Miracle Max from “The Princess Bride” here: This deal is “mostly” dead. When the Clippers hire Brian Shaw, Lionel Hollins or Byron Scott as their coach, then I’ll call it dead. This thing has come back more times than Freddy Krueger, I’m not ready to say it fully dead. Especially since the Clippers are not willing to call it dead.

Even if the talks are deceased, I would  caution anyone who thinks this is going to have a big impact on Chris Paul’s decision to stay with the Clippers this summer as a free agent. There is no indication that he will do anything but re-sign with the Clippers — he would have to leave $30 million on the table, leave a 56-win team with the potential to be a contender with a couple moves, and he would have to leave all the opportunities that a major media market provides if he leaves Los Angeles. You think there is a “Cliff Paul” if he’s playing in Atlanta or Dallas? Nobody around the league thinks CP3 is going anywhere.

It also is the Clippers could try to strike a deal to trade just for Garnett, but it is unclear if he would waive his no trade clause for a coach other than Rivers.

The Clippers and Celtics were on the verge of a deal that would have sent Kevin Garnett to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan then make a second move that would have sent a pick or two to Boston for the rights to sign Rivers once Boston let him out of his contract.

However, David Stern said that the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement does not expressly allow teams to trade players for a coach. While the Celtics and Clippers wanted to split it into two separate deals, nobody was buying that they were separate. So the Clippers latest plan was to work out a compensation deal with picks for Rivers (that is allowed) and then try to figure out a separate Garnett deal in a couple weeks.

But apparently the two sides disagreed on the pick for Rivers — the Celtics wanted a first rounder, the Clippers were only offering a second.

As the Clippers first round picks the next few drafts are likely to be only a few away from the second round anyway, it makes you wonder how serious they really were about getting a deal done?

The Clippers have Shaw, Hollins and Scott on their radar; the decision is owner Donald Sterling’s.

Rivers is scheduled to have a press conference in Boston Monday. It is possible that if Rivers decides he wants to come back to the Celtics — which admittedly seems a real long shot now — that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would be back for one more run. But the more likely outcome is the Celtics bring the Big Three era to an end.

San Antonio Spurs retire Tony Parker’s number

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Tim Duncan went up first. Then Manu Ginobili.

Monday night it was Tony Parker’s turn — all of the Spurs’ big three have now had their jerseys retired.

This is obviously well deserved.

The No. 28 pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, Parker went on to win four NBA titles, was named Finals MVP with one of those, plus was a six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA player. He was part of core that turned the Spurs into a dynasty.

Everyone was on hand for the ceremony, with coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan, and Ginobili all speaking before Parker, and all of them talking about their bond.

It was an emotional and touching night.

The next stop for Duncan, Parker and Ginobili? The Hall of Fame.

 

Kings’ point guard De’Aaron Fox out at least 3-4 weeks with ankle sprain

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The Sacramento Kings — everyone’s League Pass favorites — have been snake bitten this season. First it was Marvin Bagley III, who broke his right thumb in the season opener.

Now point guard De'Aaron Fox will be out at least 3-4 weeks (that’s when he’ll be re-evaluated) after suffering a grade three ankle sprain in practice Monday. From the official Sacramento press release:

An MRI conducted this afternoon on Kings guard De’Aaron Fox confirmed that he sustained a left ankle sprain at the end of practice on Monday. He will be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks and his status will be updated as appropriate.

After a breakout season a year ago, this season Fox had come back to earth a little in new coach Luke Walton’s system — his turnovers were up and his efficiency had slipped, a 52.8 true shooting percentage that is close to the league average, for example — but he was still putting up 18.2 points and dishing out 7 assists a game. He has been the focal point of the Kings’ offense.

This is a blow to the Kings and their development. Sacramento had won 3-of-4 and seemed to be finding more of a groove.

Sacramento does have depth at the point guard spot, however. It signed Cory Joseph over the summer to a three-year, $37 million contract, plus it picked up a team option on Yogi Ferrell. They have some depth at the spot.

However, those players do not have Fox’s explosiveness. The Kings just will not be the same until he returns.

Greece coach Rick Pitino plans to enter 2020 Olympic qualifying without Giannis Antetokounmpo

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) Greece coach Rick Pitino is planning on trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympics without Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Pitino officially took over as coach of the Greek national basketball team on Monday. He said he would leave a roster place open for Antetokounmpo in qualifying games but is not sure if he will be able to rely on his best player.

Greece will try to reach the Tokyo Olympics by winning a qualifying tournament. But the dates could clash with the NBA schedule, probably ruling out Antetokounmpo.

“It is a possibility he will not be playing with us in the qualifying round if he goes far (in the playoffs). I understood that coming into this situation, and that’s why it’s such a high mountain to climb,” Pitino said. “But Giannis is something, it’s a bridge we have to cross later on. But we are going to leave a roster spot even if he has to take my place.”

Pitino said he hoped to meet Antetokounmpo and his brother, Milwaukee teammate Thanasis Antetokounmpo, in March when the Bucks travel to Miami.

The 67-year-old Pitino is a veteran of the college game and the NBA, coaching the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks as well as Kentucky and Louisville. He has returned to Greece after coaching Athens club Panathinaikos last season and remains popular.

Pitino said he also felt that attachment.

“(Coaching Greece) is the crown jewel for me as a basketball coach,” Pitino said. “This is one of the greatest honors I’ve had as a coach. I consider this so special because it’s a mountain that is so worth climbing.

“And for the next eight months. I’m not American. I’m not Italian. I’m Greek. And that’s the way I’m going to carry myself. You won’t see anybody who will bleed every possession like I will bleed to try and win a game.”

LeBron James rips AAU workload: ‘AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid’

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Last week, during the pointless debate about Kawhi Leonard missing a game for load management, the most salient point came from former Suns coach Earl Watson.

He echoed a must-read story (from Baxter Holmes at ESPN) that reverberated around the NBA this summer (but for many fans got lost in the shuffle of player movement): How NBA team medical staffs — as well as just doctors working on young athletes — were noticing the extreme wear and tear on the body of AAU basketball players. The volume of games, often without enough training and conditioning to properly strengthen their young bodies or let them recover, sets young players up for injuries later in their playing career. NBA teams and doctors, with their load management techniques, are trying to make up for damage that started long before.

LeBron James, with two sons playing AAU ball right now, is in full agreement.

LeBron ripped the volume of games played in the youth basketball culture, speaking to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f***,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through…

“I think [AAU] has something to do with it, for sure,” James told Yahoo Sports. “It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f- – -ing out of control. That’s just too much… So, I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing.

“Because a lot of these tournaments don’t have the best interest of these kids, man. I see it. It’s like one time, they had to play a quarterfinal game, a semifinal game and a championship game starting at 9 a.m., and the championship game was at 12:30 p.m. Three games. I was like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ And my kids were dead tired. My kids were dead tired. This isn’t right. This is an issue.”

It is an issue. A big issue. The NBA can talk about reducing the number of games — they are, and they should, the season is too long, but cutting the number of games becomes a complex financial issue — but it goes beyond just the NBA level.

There needs to be fundamental changes in youth basketball in the NBA, down to the AAU level. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has talked about this.

“So, where historically it’s been an area, particularly AAU basketball, that the league has stayed out of, I think these most recent revelations (from the NCAA scandal) are just a reminder that we’re part of this larger basketball community. I think ultimately, whether we like it or not, need to be more directly involved with elite youth basketball,” Silver said a couple of years ago. Since then, the league has taken steps in that direction.

However, like shortening the NBA season, there are a lot of competing interests in a complicated situation. A lot of people are making money the way things are now and don’t want them to change.

For the health of players, it needs to.