30 teams in 30 days: Don't call it a rebuild for Clippers (but it is)


30 teams in 30 days: Don't call it a rebuild for Clippers (but it is)

When Doc Rivers left Boston in 2013 for Los Angeles, he did so in part because he didn’t want to go through another rebuild.
You won’t hear the word "rebuilding" when it comes to describing what he’s doing now with the Clippers.
But when you lose an All-Star (Chris Paul), one of the most accurate 3-point shooters in the league (J.J. Redick) and one of the best sixth man (Jamal Crawford) of this era – in one offseason, mind you – that is what we refer to as a team that’s rebuilding.
Regardless of the semantics, there’s little doubt that the Clippers are no longer among the favorites to contend for a title out West.
With so many new faces on the roster, developing chemistry trumps chasing titles at this point for Rivers whose GM duties will now be handled by longtime friend Lawrence Frank.
The Clippers are now a team that will be built in part around the talents of Blake Griffin and new addition Danilo Gallinari.
And like most teams, Rivers is looking to field lineups that are high on talent and versatility, even if it at times means playing smaller lineups.
“I also believe in size but it has to be versatile,” Rivers said. “If you’re gonna beat some of these other teams you’re going to have to stand out some other way.”

Leading Rivers’ versatility movement will be the 1-2 frontcourt punch of Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari.
Griffin, a five-time All-Star, will be at the epicenter of the Clippers’ efforts to remain among the better teams in the Western Conference while Gallinari arrives from Denver, where the 6-foot-10 forward has established himself as one of the better inside-outside bigs. He was pursued by a number of teams, including the Celtics, this summer in free agency.
Whether you use the term rebuilding or reshaping in describing the Clippers, the bottom line is they will play a different brand of basketball that relies more on the collective sums of their parts rather than a handful of superstars, which has been the case in recent years.
“The fact that we have versatility plus size, I feel we’ll create mismatches that way,” Rivers said.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Danilo Gallinari (Denver); Patrick Beverley (Houston); Lou Williams (Houston); Milos Teodosic (Serbia); Montrezl Harrell (Houston); Sam Dekker (Houston).
Key losses: Chris Paul (Houston); J.J. Redick (Philadelphia); Mo Speights (Orlando); Jamal Crawford (Minnesota); Raymond Felton (Oklahoma City); Paul Pierce (retired).
Rookies of note: Sindarius Thornwell
42-40 (second in the Pacific Division, eighth in the West)

Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?


Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

After arriving in Boston and spending some time with his new teammates, Kyrie Irving felt good about this group doing big things this season. 

But when asked about the experience thus far being what he thought it would be, Irving responded, “It’s probably exceeded that.”

He’s not alone. 

Few would have envisioned the Celtics (15-2) would have the best record in the NBA at this point, let alone be riding a 15-game winning streak which ranks as the fifth-best winning streak in franchise history. 

Irving and his Celtics teammates will try and keep it going tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Irving’s ability to mesh with his teammates and still find success was among the many questions out there when the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the blockbuster trade this offseason. 

Blending in has not been an issue for Irving, bolstered by the reality that his game stands out. 

We saw that in Boston’s 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which was a game in which Irving had 30 points on an insanely efficient 10-for-12 shooting night. 

There were many factors that went into Irving’s strong night against the Hawks, but he said it really came down to one thing above all else.

“I just made some damn shots for once,” Irving quipped. “That right there kind of made it seem better than I actually been shooting over the start of the season.  It would also contribute to being able to be in the right spots and guys being selfless in their approach driving to the basket or getting into the paint. It’s tell-tale sign of all of us getting more comfortable.”

Here are five below-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks, with Boston gunning for its 16th straight win. 


Jaylen Brown has been on a bit of an offensive tear of late, the last being a career-high 27-point performance in Boston’s win over Atlanta. But even more telling is how well things seem to flow with him on the floor. Brown’s plus/minus this season is +146 which is tops among all players in the Eastern Conference. His closest competition in the East? That would teammate Al Horford whose plus/minus this season is +143. In addition, Horford has had a positive plus/minus in every game this season. 


You can count Yogi Ferrell among the ones that got away from Brad Stevens when he was coaching at Butler. Ferrell, who played at Indiana, was a player on Stevens’ radar when he was coaching at Butler. “I recruited Yogi, unsuccessfully,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas. While Ferrell came on strong as an undrafted free agent with the Mavericks last season, Stevens said there’s nothing about Ferrell’s game now that he didn’t see when he tried to woo him to Butler. “He would have been awfully good at Butler,” Stevens said.


While Marcus Smart grew up in Flower Mound, Texas (less than an hour from Dallas), tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for another Celtics player – Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 forward played at SMU which is located in Dallas. A second-round pick by Boston in last June’s NBA draft, Ojeleye has been among the many surprise performers for the Celtics this season. “We knew he could be a versatile defender,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Probably has exceeded our expectations in that regard with his ability to guard one (point guard) through five (center) at certain times. And he’s been pretty consistent shooting the ball. Right now, embracing that kind of 3-and-D role is what he has to do and he’s done it well.”


The Boston Celtics struck gold by drafting Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. But as you look at the teams that had lottery picks in last June’s NBA draft, few come away feeling disappointed or discouraged by the player selected. The Dallas Mavericks are among the teams pleased with their first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected with the ninth overall pick. He has emerged as one of the top rookies this year, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. And yes, he was a player that was on the Celtics’ radar leading up to last June’s draft. “We had Dennis in and he was really impressive,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a guy that’s going to have a great career and he’s got good veteran players around him to help kick it off.”


The numbers aren’t anywhere close to what we’ve seen for the bulk of Dirk Nowitzki’s illustrious career that’s now in Year 20. But there is a demeanor about him that seems to be at peace with where he’s at basketball-wise, even if the wins aren’t nearly as plentiful as he’s accustomed to. “I appreciate his game a ton,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Just watching him talk on the court, cheer on the bench, sit at the scorer’s table with a smile on his face. You can’t play this long and be this good this long if you don’t’ love it. Everybody says they love it, but he’s got a different level of passion. You can feel it, you can see it. You root for guys like him to have success.”


WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks


WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]