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Rumor: Pelicans interested in Iman Shumpert, but deal unlikely

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The New Orleans Pelicans are desperate for help at the three.

Solomon Hill — who is better as a small-ball four — was set to play the three, but he is now going to miss most or all of the season with a torn hamstring. The Pelicans are so desperate they worked out Josh Smith, Chase Budinger, and Martell Webster. They need a three who can defend.

Iman Shumpert isn’t that, but he’s close enough that there is interest, according to Basketball Insiders.

A source told Basketball Insiders last week that the Pelicans were among the teams interested in Cleveland Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert. Since acquiring Jae Crowder from the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade, many speculated that Shumpert could be expendable.

Shumpert has been shopped around for a while (but did not ask for a trade, despite reports).

The problem is making a deal. Shumpert is owed $10.3 million this season (with a player option for $11 million next season) and the Pelicans are creeping up on the hard cap they created for themselves. They just traded Quincy Pondexter to the Bulls in a move to create some salary cap space, but the Pelicans would need to send out just about as much salary as Shumpert is owed. Omer Asik fits perfectly as a salary, but there is no way the Cavaliers take him (plus Asik has three years left on his contract, so Cleveland would be adding an extra year of salary). If the Pelicans threw in sweeteners they could try to get a third team to take on Asik, but good luck with that.

The Pelicans have to be looking at guys like Matt Barnes and Shabazz Muhammad, although landing them will not be easy either. That just makes more sense than a Shumpert trade.

Report: Desperate at small forward, Pelicans work out Josh Smith

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Solomon Hill is out for most of the season, and Dante Cunningham could sign with the Timberwolves.

The Pelicans are in dire straights at small forward.

They’re down to Quincy Pondexter and Darius Miller, neither of whom has played in the NBA the last two years. Pondexter was hurt, and Miller fell overseas after struggling in his first stint stateside.

But New Orleans is searching for help.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on The Woj Pod:

They have a workout there with, I’m told, Josh Smith, Chase Budinger, Martell Webster.

The last time Smith played small forward, it did not go well.

Smith played in China last season, and Budinger (one) and Webster (two) are also at least a full year removed from their last NBA season. None of these options are encouraging – but Smith is the most comical.

Now 31 and in the modern NBA, the 6-foot-9 Smith is probably more center than power forward. His clunky jumper and lagging speed/agility definitely leave him ill-suited to play small forward. (Maybe Wojnarowski meant the other Josh Smith, but that Smith is even more a center.)

How amazing would it be if the Pelicans start two point guards and three centers?

Clippers have unprecedented mix of sustained regular-season success, playoff failure

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There have been 58 six-season streaks, many overlapping, of a teams winning more than 60% of its games each year.

Most of the six-season sets have produced multiple championships, and almost three-quarters saw at least one title. Three-quarters of the six-season sets also saw multiple Finals appearances. Nearly four-fifths featured at least three appearances in the conference finals (or, prior to that, the division finals). Fifty-five included multiple conference/division finals, and two more had one.

And then there are the Clippers.

In the last six years, the Clippers have gone 40-26 (61%), 56-26 (68%), 57-25 (70%), 56-26 (68%), 53-29 (65%) and 51-31 (62%). Championships: 0. Finals: 0. Conference finals: 0.

The latest letdown came with a home Game 7 loss to the Jazz yesterday.

Like several other years, the Clippers had a seemingly legitimate excuse. Blake Griffin was injured. Last year, both Griffin and Chris Paull got hurt in a first-round loss to the Trail Blazers. In 2015, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer got hot on 3-pointers as L.A. blew a closeout Game 6 to the Rockets. The Clippers didn’t have a better record than the teams that beat them in 2012 (50-16 Spurs), 2013 (56-26 Grizzlies) and 2014 (59-23 Thunder).

It was also easier to reach a conference/division finals in earlier eras. There were fewer teams and fewer playoff rounds.

But don’t let the Clippers completely off the hook. Why did they so lifelessly blow Games 5 and 7 after going up 3-1 in 2015? They had the same record as Memphis and home-court advantage in 2013. The Clippers never even lost to the team that reached the Finals, and with the Jazz set to face the Warriors, that doesn’t project to change this year.

Perhaps we’re unfairly criticizing the Clippers for winning in the regular season. If they had lost a little more from late October to mid April, they would have avoided this particularly infamy.

However, this is also a team with Paul, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Those stars (even if Jordan didn’t become one until during this run) deserve high expectations.

Fair or not – and I’d say fair – this feels like a team that has significantly underwhelmed.

And the feeling matters. It will hover over the Clippers’ uncertain future, with Paul, Griffin and J.J. Redick hitting unrestricted free agency. They’ll each have plenty to evaluate, but the Clippers’ historically disappointing run is impossible to escape.

Here’s every stretch of a team winning more than 60% of its games each season, with the number of titles, Finals and conference/division finals during each streak:

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Josh Smith’s Chinese team is really bad at mannequin challenge (videos)

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Josh Smith signed in China.

How’s it going?

If we’re judging by his Sichuan Blue Whales’ ability to do the mannequin challenge, not so well.

The first attempt came in the weight room. The level of difficulty is way too high, the payoff too low and the execution awful:

Take two brings the level of difficulty way down – too far down. And unfortunately the execution doesn’t even rise commensurately:

At least Smith is given free reign to jack 18 3-pointers in a game:

Josh Smith signs in China

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As training camps opened, 12-year NBA veteran Josh Smith clearly stated his goal – to remain in the NBA. Smith, via Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

“My main goal is that I am an NBA player,” Smith said. “Being able to go overseas, people are professional, but the NBA is what I have built myself to do. I’m still hungry. If I jumped to leave my NBA chances behind, I feel it would’ve been an act of desperation.

About that…

Asia-Basket:

Defending champion Sichuan Blue Whales (CBA) agreed terms with 31-year old American forward Josh Smith

This wasn’t an act of desperation. This was an act of reality.

NBA rosters are full, and nobody seems to have much interest in Smith. He’s on the wrong side of 30, too often a pain in the locker room and coming off a dismal season. He was forgettable with the Clippers aside from a heated argument with an assistant coach then just lousy with the Rockets after a midseason trade. That he couldn’t recreate any success in Houston, where he was up and down in 2014-15, is telling. Remember, he became a free agent to join the Rockets in 2014 only after the Pistons ate an unprecedented amount of salary to waive him outright.

Smith will try to build a case for joining the NBA after the Chinese Basketball Association season ends in the spring. Roster dynamics could be more favorable to him then. He’ll also earn some money in the interim.

I wouldn’t rule out Smith playing in the NBA again. Not even close. But there’s a reason he’s not in the league right now.