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Rumor: If Clippers can’t land Durant or Leonard they will remain patient

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There are tiers of free agents this summer, and teams with money to spend usually follow a pattern: Aim high at the top tier, if they strike out then move on to the next tier, and on down the list until they get their man.

This year the top tier is clear: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson.

The Los Angeles Clippers are in the mix for two of those (Thompson isn’t going anywhere, he will re-sign with Golden State). Both Durant and Leonard have been linked to the Clippers, but the NBA Finals may change the situation for both, Durant because of his torn Achilles (nobody is exactly sure how that will impact him, and the Knicks have long been the favorite if he leaves anyway) and Leonard because he won and may choose to stay on a short deal with Toronto.

If the Clippers strike out with that top tier, they are not moving on to the next group (Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, etc.). They will just wait it out and build slowly reports Jovan Buha at The Athletic.

So what happens if the Clippers strike out and don’t nab Durant, Leonard or Davis?

The Clippers will remain patient and diligent with their roster-building, carrying out their original 2018 plan to acquire assets and develop their young core over multiple seasons. The Clippers don’t feel pressure to ramp up their aggression on the trade market if they don’t sign a star free agent, league sources told The Athletic.

The Clippers like their young core — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shammet, Montrezl Harrell — and combine that with Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari (if he can stay healthy again) and you have a Clipper team back in the playoff mix in the West. The Clippers will live with that and be patient with their young core, waiting for a true No. 1 option, rather than settle for a player they have questions or doubts about.

Which is smart. No half measures.

At least for now. Eventually, the pressure will mount to do more, but in the short term the Clippers can afford to be patient.

Kosta Koufos heading to Europe, agrees to terms with CSKA Moscow

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After spending 11 seasons in the NBA, the last four years in Sacramento, Kosta Koufos has found a new home for next season.

In Moscow. With EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow.

Koufos struggled to fit in his big-man game with the new up-tempo Kings last season. Add to that the NBA moving toward “small ball” — which is more about skill and mobility than size — Koufos has decided to head overseason. He’s making more than the NBA veteran minimum, which is likely what he would have gotten from an NBA squad.

All but the elite big men in the NBA are finding reduced demand and with that reduced pay scale, so good on Koufos for doing what is best for himself.

Watch Trae Young drop 31 at Drew League, lose to Montrezl Harrell who has 46

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is one of the premiere — for my money the best — summer pro-am basketball league in America. There is some serious talent getting run on that court.

But drop in NBA talent and it’s another level.

That’s what happened Saturday in Los Angeles. Atlanta’s Trae Young showed up, went head-to-head with the reigning Drew League MVP Frank “Nitty” Session (who has embarrassed guys like Denzel Valentine in Drew games), and dropped 31.

But Young’s team lost because Clippers’ stud  Montrezl Harrell dropped 46.

You can see the highlights above thanks to BallisLife.

 

Manny Pacquiao says he has thought about buying part of NBA team when he retires

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At age 40, Manny Pacquiao is not retiring. Even if you and some boxing pundits think he should. Tonight (Saturday) he fights Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and is expected to pull down about a cool $26 million for his trouble. If you’re getting paid like that, why retire exactly? He has said he wants to fight another five years or so.

After that, he’d like to buy part of an NBA team.

That’s what he told TMZ in a pre-fight interview.

He said he has thought about buying a piece of an NBA team after he retires. Pacquiao, a basketball nut who uses the sport as part of his training, owns an entire semi-pro league — the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League — in the Philippines (one of the most basketball-crazy nations on earth). Pacquiao said he thinks his experience with that league would help him as an NBA owner, that some of the skills will translate, which is likely true. Pacquiao said it’s about finding the right opportunity.

Forbes estimates that Pacquiao will have earned, after Saturday’s fight, more than $500 million in his career. Various websites estimate his net worth in the $200 million range. He’s got the money to jump in as a part owner.

In an NBA that loves personalities and characters — and one always trying to gain more traction in Asian markets — don’t be shocked if this happens someday.

Once Pacquiao retires.

C.J.McCollum, Eric Gordon both withdraw from USA Basketball for World Cup

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First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.

Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.

The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.

USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:

Damian Lillard
Bradley Beal
Khris Middleton
Tobias Harris
Andre Drummond

Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.

That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.

USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.