NBA AM: Will Rivers Ensure Paul Re-Signs?
VIDEO OF THE DAY – Dante Exum
Australia’s Dante Exum could be eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft, and while he is still deciding, if he opts in, he could be a top 15 player in 2014. HOOPSWORLD caught up with Exum in Italy this weekend and talked with him about what is next.Watch More Video Here
Doc Rivers Deal Equals Chris Paul Deal?: Chris Paul may not have liked the implication that he got former Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro fired, but there is no avoiding the fact that he was instrumental in getting Doc Rivers hired to replace him.
The Boston Celtics and L.A. Clippers reached a deal in principle yesterday that would send an unprotected first round draft pick in 2015 to Boston in exchange for the Celtics allowing Rivers out of his remaining three contract years and free to sign a new deal with the Clips.
Rivers’ new deal will keep him among the highest paid coaches in the league with a new three-year, $21 million package that some say contains bonuses that could swell the deal up to $8 million per season if the Clippers go deep in the playoffs each year.
Sources close to the situation say Paul’s insistence on Rivers helped management convince owner Donald Sterling to part with an unprotected draft pick and agree to a massive coaching contract for Rivers, something Sterling had serious reservations about doing.
Paul, who will become an unrestricted free agent next Monday, is now expected to ink a new five-year deal with the Clippers next week taking him off the free agent market.
Sources say that the decision to hire Rivers is absolutely related to a new Paul deal and that hiring Rivers simply “cemented” Paul’s future with the Clippers.
The NBA still has to approve the transaction, but with Celtics big man Kevin Garnett pulled out of the deal, there does not seem to be any obstacles in this getting completed as early as today.
We Want To Know:
So What’s Next For Both Teams?: Both the Clippers and the Celtics are now headed in two very different directions, with several transactions in front of them. Here is what we know today:
Paul Pierce: The Celtics have entertained trade talks involving Pierce, with the Cleveland Cavaliers having expressed serious interest in obtaining Pierce and his final $15.33 million contract year. The Cavaliers have offered their two second round draft picks – the 31st and 34th picks in Thursday’s draft – as part of a package for Pierce. The Celtics are said to be far more open to trading Pierce than buying out his deal, which only has $5 million guaranteed. The Celtics have just a few days to make a deal with Pierce before they have to lock in his contract, although sources say they may be more open to doing that knowing that they will trade him.
The Cavs’ interest in Pierce is to pair him with their young backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters and compete in the East.
Kevin Garnett: It does not seem like the NBA will allow the Celtics to deal Kevin Garnett to the Clippers at any point this summer. There have already been reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves have interest in reacquiring Garnett, although Garnett would have to approve such a deal as he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Like the Cavaliers, the Wolves want to add a serious veteran to the roster to bolster their playoff run. Garnett technically has two more years left on his deal, $12.4 million next season and a $12 million final year in 2014-15 that is only partially guaranteed. It’s unclear exactly what the Wolves would offer for Garnett, but considering the rebuild the Celtics are about to embark on, moving Garnett makes a lot of sense.
Eric Bledsoe: The Clippers’ stance on trading backup guard Eric Bledsoe has been tied to the uncertainty surrounding Chris Paul. With yesterday’s move to land Doc Rivers, it seems that a new deal with Paul is all but a formality, leading many to speculate that the Clippers’ next move might be to liquidate Bledsoe for a veteran perimeter player. The Orlando Magic have been linked to Bledsoe, but sources close to the process say that the long-rumored deal that would send Arron Afflalo to the Clippers in exchange for Bledsoe isn’t nearly enough compensation given the three years and $22.5 million remaining on Afflao’s contract. The Magic might have to take back some contract cash to make a deal and include draft assets, something the Magic are reluctant to entertain. Clippers sources say they have no shortage of suitors with offers for Bledsoe, so it seems the Clips have several options to choose from with Orlando simply being the one most talked about.
DeAndre Jordan: It’s hard to imagine that the Clippers can repair the situation with DeAndre Jordan after failing to trade him to the Celtics in a package for Kevin Garnett, but sources near the situation say they are not overly worried about Jordan and feel that Doc Rivers can mend the fence and possibly even help the young center reach his full potential.
Jordan has two years and $22.4 million remaining on his contract, so his contract isn’t a terrible deal. It’s safe to say if the Clippers can find a deal for Jordan, they have already proven that they are open to a deal. However, sources near the situation say that is not in the immediate plans.
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Burke Talks Leadership And Works: Michigan point guard Trey Burke spent some time yesterday on my radio show The Game on SportsTalk 1040 The Team in Central Florida and talked about his draft workouts and how he’s been approaching the NBA Draft process, including where he might get drafted.
“I’m not getting caught up in it,” Burke said of his draft position. “I want to go where the program is going in the right direction and where the program is all about winning. If that’s at No. 9, then that’s at No. 9. If that’s at No. 2, then that’s at No. 2. I’m just ready to see where I’ll be going. … It’s been a long process, but I’ve been trying to enjoy it as much as possible. It’s definitely sinking in to a certain point, but I still don’t know where I’m going so it’s still all up in the air. I’m just excited and eager to figure out where I’m going on Thursday. I’m just looking forward to it.”
Burke labeled his work outs with Phoenix (5th pick) and Sacramento (7th pick) as possibly his best in terms of performance and fit.
“I think my workouts in Phoenix and Sacramento stood out,” Burke said. “I felt really good about those. I mean, I felt good about all of my workouts, but those are the two that really stood out specifically. I nailed them both and I’m sure that they both liked me. They gave me positive feedback. Like I said, we’ll see on Thursday where I end up.”
Working out for teams and being scrutinized by Hall of Famers and coaches he looks up to has been a little overwhelming, but Burke says he has enjoyed the process.
“It was tough at first,” Burke said. “It was something that I wasn’t used to, but I just had to focus and get through the workout without worrying about who is watching. I would say working out in front of Coach Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix and Coach Monty Williams in New Orleans [were the most intimidating] since those are guys who actually played in the NBA. Jeff Hornacek had a long career, playing with guys like John Stockton and Karl Malone so that kind of made me look at him differently while I was working out in front of him. But at the end of the day, I think I did great while they were watching me so that’s all that matters.”
Burke is considered the best leader in the 2013 NBA Draft, and that his ideal fit would be with a team that already has talent in place.
“Absolutely, I think that’s a strength of mine because I’ve always been a natural leader,” Burke said. “If I go to a team that already has guys who are leaders then that will be even better for the franchise. I’m just excited. Wherever I go, I’m willing to come in and make an impact right away.”
The 2013 NBA Draft is Thursday the 27th in Brooklyn.
More On The Noel Entourage: There have been reports of ‘epic bad dudes’ in Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel’s life, so much so that NBA teams have been asking questions about it.
Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal in Lexington talked with Noel about the reports, which Noel found laughable.
“That’s foolish for anybody to say,” Noel said of the rumors. “That definitely bothered me. I heard some crazy things about myself. Seeing what was said, it was definitely provoked by agents that I didn’t meet with. I was mainly focusing on rehab and I told my advisor that. I told him, ‘Just tell them I’m not meeting with any agents.’ I guess they took that personally. That amounted to them talking negative about the people around me, thinking my advisor was the one that was putting them to the side, when I really told him I didn’t want to meet with so many agents so I could focus on my rehab. But it is what it is. They’re going to say things. I didn’t let it get to me.”
Noel has been living in Birmingham, Alabama for several weeks to be closer to his rehab specialist, Dr. Kevin Wilk, and has kept his circle of people extremely small.
“It was shocking,” Noel said when he heard the reports. “I wondered, ‘How could they say this stuff about me?’ My mom and my advisor and my agent are the only people around me. There’s nobody bad around me. You’ll never see me with too many people, nothing you’d call an entourage.”
Noel also spent some time on my show yesterday, which you can listen to here: (http://www.sportstalkflorida.com/nba-draft-prospect-nerlens-noel-exclusive-interview/)
Noel has been into see the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards and does not plan to meet with any additional teams before Thursday’s draft.
The biggest hurdle for Noel is convincing teams that his ACL surgery from March isn’t going to be an issue.
“They’ve said that my knee is 100 percent and perfectly fine,” Noel said yesterday. “They definitely wanted to see that I was continuing to progress and building my muscles back up, but they think I can come back stronger.
“I’m three months out of post-op and I’m doing very well. I’m ahead of schedule and everything is moving along very well. I’m doing defensive slides and I’m able to jog, so everything is going well. I’m expecting a very strong return. I want to come back even stronger from this.”
Noel is a candidate for the top overall pick.
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