Jabari Parker could go from stable Duke to shaky Cleveland

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 04:16 PM

More than a month after firing Mike Brown, the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t found his replacement but could be close as the NBA draft draws near.

Top brass within the franchise understand that picking the right coach is just as important as another choice they have.

The Cavs have the top overall pick in the June 26 draft and could choose Duke forward Jabari Parker.

The team had second interviews with Los Angeles Clippers associate head coach Alvin Gentry and assistant Tyronn Lue on Friday, meetings that were expected to include Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Gentry and Lue are among at least a dozen candidates contacted by the club since Brown was fired May 12 following a 33-49 season, ending his second stint with the club.

The Cavs have met with Charlotte assistant Mark Price, a four-time All-Star point guard in Cleveland who remains one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, former Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro also had interviews with the club, but it’s not known if any of them will get a second look.

Team officials are in the process of evaluating top college prospects including Kansas center Joel Embiid, who visited Cleveland last week. The Cavs gave the 7-footer a thorough medical exam and put him through a workout. Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins and Parker are scheduled to meet with the Cavs this week.

Embiid has been touted as a franchise-changing player, but there are medical concerns about the 18-year-old, who only started playing basketball a few years ago in his native Cameroon. He missed the NCAA tournament last season with a stress fracture in his lower back, and the Cavs wanted to make sure he’s healthy before they considered taking him.

The Cavs are not confirming player visits until the day they take place.

Parker joining the Cavs would pair him with Cleveland’s All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who was the team’s top overall pick out of Duke in 2011.

While the Cavs juggle the coaching search and various options with the top pick, including a trade, the team also must decide whether to offer Irving a maximum, five-year contract extension next month. Irving has given mixed signals about his commitment to Cleveland, and it certainly hasn’t helped that the Cavs have been in disarray since he arrived.

The team was expected to get to the playoffs last season under Brown, who was fired for the first time four years ago by Gilbert.

Sterling looms over Clippers' offseason

MIAMI — With the NBA draft less than two weeks, and with free agency starting in less than three weeks, the Los Angeles Clippers aren’t in the clear with their ownership situation.

Adam Silver isn’t worried.

The NBA commissioner said he has plenty of confidence that the Clippers — with coach Doc Rivers and interim CEO Dick Parsons at the controls of the franchise’s basketball orders of business — will manage to go about their offseason dealings without any problems, even though the Donald Sterling matter that has complicated things for the team in recent months remains unsettled and may stay that way for the foreseeable future.

“It’s not a level of concern for us,” Silver told The Associated Press. “Doc Rivers is the head of basketball operations of the Clippers. We’ve installed Dick Parsons as the interim CEO. He’s on the same page as Doc. They’re working together. Dick Parsons has the absolute authority from the league office to operate the Clippers in the best interest of the organization.”

Silver banned Sterling for life back in April, and the ownership situation has hovered over the league since. Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly Sterling has agreed to sell the team for $2 billion to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but that deal cannot go forward until a lawsuit filed against the NBA and Silver by the banned owner is resolved or dropped.

The league is hopeful for a quick closure. Donald Sterling, for now, does not seem willing to allow that to happen. But even though the league was forced to act on Sterling when he was caught making racist comments on tape, what the Clippers do with their roster now is up to them. It’s a far cry from the situation in New Orleans a few years back, when ownership problems there essentially forced now-retired commissioner David Stern to run the franchise.

“Unlike the situation in New Orleans, they will not run draft decisions or trade decisions by the league office,” Silver said.

Silver has expressed mild frustration with the fact that Sterling has overshadowed the playoffs, his first as commissioner. Even the NBA Finals between San Antonio and Miami have seen plenty of Sterling-related news pop up, taking at least some of the attention off what’s happening on the court.