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Clippers pay Cavaliers to take Sam Dekker in trade

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The Clippers agreed to trade Sam Dekker to the Cavaliers a couple days ago. The only question was the exact parameters of the deal.

Now, it’s official.

Cavaliers release:

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired forward Sam Dekker from the Los Angeles Clippers, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. In exchange, Cleveland will send the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko to the Clippers. The Cavaliers will also receive the draft rights to Renaldas Seibutis and cash considerations from Los Angeles.

Veremeenko is 34, and Seibutis is 33. Both are extremely unlikely to play in the NBA.

This is just about Cleveland taking a flier on Dekker, who became expendable in L.A. The Clippers must still shed one player with a guaranteed salary – likely Jawun Evans – before the regular season (They’ll keep unguaranteed Patrick Beverley.) But Dekker was the first roster spot cleared, at the cost of some cash to the Cavaliers.

The 24-year-old combo forward regressed in L.A. last season after spending his first two season with the Rockets. He must shoot much better to stick in the NBA. Though he does little things fairly well, he just doesn’t make enough of an impact on the court if he’s not shooting better.

For the Cavs, Dekker – the No. 18 pick in the 2015 draft – is superior to available free agents. Maybe he finds his shooting stroke in Cleveland. If not, he’s on an expiring contract, so there’s no long-term downside.

Reversing reported course, Clippers fully guarantee Milos Teodosic’s salary

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The Clippers reportedly wanted to move on from point guard Milos Teodosic.

Teodosic opted in anyway, guaranteeing $2.1 million of his $6.3 million salary. Why not get as much money as possible on the way out?

But apparently Teodosic isn’t leaving L.A., as his contract became fully guaranteed yesterday.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The Clippers are expected to keep guard Milos Teodosic despite their crowded backcourt, according to an NBA official not authorized to speak publicly.

The Clippers traded guard Austin Rivers for center Marcin Gortat since the initial report, but that hardly ended the backcourt logjam. Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, C.J. Williams and Jawun Evans remain at guard.

The bigger logjam is with the overall roster, though. The Clippers now have 17 players on standard contracts, two more than the regular-season limit. That doesn’t bode well for Williams, whose salary is unguaranteed. Without another trade, Evans or Sindarius Thornwell could get cut.

Why the change of heart on Teodosic? Perhaps, he’s progressing better than expected medically. The 31-year-old missed 37 games last season with a foot injury, and there was concern about his long-term health. But when on the court, he’s a dazzling passer and long-distance shooter. Being slowed won’t help his already-woeful defense, though.

The Clippers were already over the cap, and they’re in little danger of entering the luxury tax. So, the only costs of guaranteeing Teodosic are owner Steve Ballmer’s real money, a roster spot and him potentially blocking playing time of L.A.’s lottery-pick guards. But the Clippers could even cut Teodosic in the preseason if someone else emerges as more deserving of the roster spot, and Doc Rivers can choose whether to play Teodosic or Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson.

So, the biggest development is the roster spot. Teodosic is now extremely likely to hold it into the season, which means monitoring who gets dripped.

Report: Rockets drop protest of loss to Clippers

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The Rockets protested their loss to the Clippers last month, because what should have been Jawun Evans‘ sixth and disqualifying foul was assigned to Lou Williams. Evans stayed in the game and drew a couple key charges on James Harden.

But the NBA apparently won’t rule whether the final 3:10 of that game should be replayed.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

The Rockets have withdrawn their protest of the Dec. 22 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, an individual with knowledge of the decision said

The Rockets paid $10,000 to file that protest. By rule, the money is returned only if the challenge is successful. I’m not sure why they dropped their appeal now.

It was unlikely to be upheld, anyway. The only chance was seemingly if a scorekeeping error gave Williams the foul, and it seems more likely the referees on the court just whistled the wrong player.

After dropping 51 in loss, James Harden complains about “Bulls— calls”

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About those rising tensions between players and referees, it’s not going to be a simple fix.

James Harden dropped 51 points for the second consecutive game Friday night, and for the second game in a row the Rockets lost. Harden got one foul call early on a flop by Jawun Evans (that was so blatant I’m not sure how the officials missed it), and four others came in the final six minutes of the game as the Rockets tried to rally. Mike D’Antoni was so frustrated he picked up a technical on one of the calls.

After the game, Harden vented, via ESPN.

Asked the source of his frustration, Harden said, “Bulls— calls…

“I’m tired of hearing, ‘I made a mistake,’ or ‘I didn’t see it,'” said Harden… “That’s frustrating when you hear it as a player. I know we all make mistakes, but it’s just frustrating.”

Harden can break out the checkbook now, a fine is coming for that. (He knew it when he said it.)

Harden hasn’t been getting to the line nearly as often this season. With official no longer allowing continuation if a player hasn’t started his shooting motion when fouled, Harden’s free throw rate (number of free throw attempts to field goal attempts) has dropped to his lowest rate since his rookie season. He’s not getting the same calls, somewhat by design.

The officials are also not why the Rockets lost Friday night — Houston’s stout defense for most of the season has gone on vacation the last two games. Austin Rivers lit the Rockets up for 30. That’s been the real problem.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.