Doc Rivers implies Clippers will keep core together at least two more years

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Ladies and gentlemen: Doc Rivers, Clippers president.

Rivers, in a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Q: What is the key change needed for the Clippers to be a championship team?

Rivers: “We’re right there. It’s funny. People think it’s easy to go win a title. Winning is hard. Winning a game is hard. I love the fact that we are on the door. We’ve knocked on the door twice as far as getting to the Western Conference Finals. We haven’t made it, so you just keep doing it. I don’t feel the push or the pressure of, ‘Man, if they don’t do it …’ Why not? We keep doing it.

“We clearly have proven that we can get to a Game 7 and a Game 6 back-to-back years. Last year we were up 3-1 [in the second round to Houston and lost]. Then [in 2014], we had the meltdown in the Oklahoma City game [in the conference semifinals] that kind of changed the series. What it tells me is we’re closer than people think. We just got to keep going.

“Obviously, if we are not there in two years from now you re-think things. But you don’t blow your team up every year. I keep laughing at everyone who says [to do] that. That’s the guys who have never really been in it. You keep just going forward. Keep your core and see if you can get it right. That’s it. We have to rebound better. Our defense is light years better this year to me. We have to make the right shots. Make the right plays. Our whole thing is to keep playing.”

Rivers is right. It’s absolutely ludicrous for anyone to suggest the Clippers break up their Chris PaulBlake GriffinDeAndre Jordan core. Who would suggest such a thing?



Doc Rivers.

Before the season, Rivers said he might blow up his roster if the team fell short in the playoffs. Apparently, the idea is now laughable.

At least Rivers is right now. It’s hard to assemble a core as good as Paul, Griffin and Jordan. Don’t throw that away for the sake of change. If the Warriors and Spurs weren’t historically good, the Clippers would factor more prominently into the discussion of title contenders. Like all potential championship teams, the Clippers would need luck to win, and that will probably remain true the next couple seasons. But changing the roster won’t change the odds of good fortune. It’ll just make it more likely the team’s talent falls out of title-contention level.

Of course, Rivers doesn’t have complete control here. Paul and Griffin can become free agents next year and Jordan the year after that. If Rivers wants to keep this group together, he must convince everyone to stay.

Rivers also might be saying this as a negotiating ploy. I don’t want to trade any of my top players, but if you make an over-the-top offer, I’d have to consider it… Remember, there have been reports the Clippers would shop Griffin first if they change directions. Teams totally content with their core don’t make that determination.

The Clippers’ performance in the playoffs will certainly affect Rivers’ plan, so it’s difficult to project what that will be before the postseason.

It’s also difficult to discern Rivers’ plan by listening to his contradictory statements.

Watch Trae Young get ejected for launching ball at referee


Trae Young screwed up and he knew it.

“It’s just a play he can’t make,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said via the Associated Press after the game. “I told him that. He knows it.”

With the score tied at 84 in the third quarter, Young had a 3-pointer disallowed and an offensive foul called on him for tripping the Pacers’ Aaron Nesmith. A frustrated Young picked up a technical foul for something he said.

Then walking back to the bench, Young turned and launched the ball at the referee with two hands. It was an instant ejection.


“There wasn’t a single part of him that tried to rationalize what happened,” Snyder said.

Young can expect a fine for this. It also was his 15th technical of the season, one more and he will get an automatic one-game suspension.

The Hawks went on to win 143-130, improving Atlanta to .500 at 37-37 and keeping them solidly as the No. 8 seed in the East.

Report: ‘Strong optimism’ Anthony Edwards could return to Timberwolves Sunday

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
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What looked so bad when it happened may only cost Anthony Edwards three games.

Edwards rolled his ankle last week but could be back Sunday when the Timberwolves travel to Golden State, reports Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports.

Edwards is averaging 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this season, and he has stepped up to become the team’s primary shot-creator with Karl-Anthony Towns out for much of the season. The Timberwolves have been outscored by 3.4 points per 100 possessions when Edwards is off the court this season.

Towns returned to action a couple of games ago, and with Edwards on Sunday it will be the first time since November the Timberwolves will have their entire core on the court — now with Mike Conley at the point. With the Timberwolves tied for the No.7 seed in an incredibly tight West (they are 1.5 games out of sixth but also one game out of missing the postseason entirely) it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s also not much time to develop of fit and chemistry the team will need in the play-in, and maybe the playoffs.

Nets announce Ben Simmons diagnosed with nerve impingement in back, out indefinitely

NBA: FEB 24 Nets at Bulls
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Ben Simmons — who has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup all season and often struggled when on the court — is out indefinitely due to a nerve impingement in his back, the team announced Friday.

A nerve impingement — sometimes called a pinched nerve — is when a bone or other tissue compresses a nerve. Simmons has a history of back issues going back to his time in Philadelphia, and he had a microdiscectomy about a year ago, after he was traded to Brooklyn.

With two weeks and nine games left in the season, logic would suggest Simmons is done for the season. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Thursday that Simmons has done some individual workouts but nothing with teammates, however, he would not say Simmons is shut down for the season or would not participate in the postseason with Brooklyn.

Simmons had not played since the All-Star break when he got PRP injections to help deal with ongoing knee soreness. When he has played this season offense has been a struggle, he has been hesitant to shoot outside a few feet from the basket and is averaging 6.9 points a game. Vaughn used him mainly as a backup center.

Simmons has two fully guaranteed years and $78 million remaining on his contract after this season. While Nets fans may want Simmons traded, his injury history and that contract will make it very difficult to do so this summer (Brooklyn would have to add so many sweeteners it wouldn’t be worth it).

The Nets have slid to the No.7 seed in the West — part of the play-in — and have a critical game with the Heat on Saturday night.

Frustration rising within Mavericks, ‘We got to fight hard, play harder’


If the postseason started today, the Dallas Mavericks would miss out — not just the playoffs but also the play-in.

The Mavericks fell to the No.11 seed in the West (tied with the Thunder for 10th) after an ugly loss Friday night to a tanking Hornets team playing without LaMelo Ball and on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas is 3-7 with both Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić playing, and with this latest loss fans booed the Mavericks. What was Jason Kidd’s reaction? Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“We probably should have been booed in the first quarter,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said…. “The interest level [from players] wasn’t high,” Kidd said. “It was just disappointing.”

That was a little different than Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the boos.

Then there is franchise cornerstone Luka Dončić, who sounded worn down, by the season and the losing in Dallas.

“We got to fight hard, play harder. That’s about it. We got to show we care and it starts with me first. I’ve just got to lead this team, being better, playing harder. It’s on me….

“I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s me. I’m just being out there. I used to have really fun, smiling on court, but it’s just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”

Dončić would not elaborate on what, outside basketball, has frustrated him.

Look at seeds 5-10 in the West and you see teams that have struggled but have the elite talent and experience to be a postseason threat: The Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, plus Kevin Durant is expected back next week), the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry and the four-time champions), the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis and maybe before the season ends LeBron James).

Should the Mavericks be in that class? On paper yes, they have clutch playoff performers of the past in Dončić and Irving, but an energy-less loss to Charlotte showed a team lacking the chemistry and fire right now that teams like the Lakers (beating the Thunder) and Warriors (beating the 76ers) showed on the same night.

The Mavericks feel like less of a playoff threat, especially with their defensive concerns. They don’t have long to turn things around — and get into the postseason.