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Steve Clifford to Return to Hornets Tuesday

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Following a medical leave of more than a month, the Charlotte Hornets’ Steve Clifford will return to coach his team starting Tuesday at practice, the Hornets announced Thursday night.

The Observer first reported Thursday that Clifford has been cleared to return to work. He has been out since Dec. 4, when associate head coach Steve Silas took over. Previously, Clifford’s health condition was undisclosed. However, a source confirmed to the Observer that Clifford has been suffering from severe headaches, a condition that predates this season.

Clifford will address the media Friday midday at Spectrum Center. His first game back will be Wednesday night, at home against the Washington Wizards.

Clifford has been out since the morning of a Dec. 4 home game against the Orlando Magic. The Hornets were 8-13 before Clifford’s departure, and are now 16-24.

Source: Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer

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Sources: Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard Expected to Agree to Four-Year Supermax Extension

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Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are expected to come to terms over the summer on a four-year, $191 million supermax contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Lillard would officially qualify for the supermax if he’s voted to one of the three All-NBA Teams, which is virtually a lock for the four-time All-Star.

Lillard has two years and approximately $62 million remaining on his current deal. The extension would put him under contract for the next six years, and he’d be 34 years old by the time the deal expires, perhaps solidifying his status as arguably the greatest Trail Blazer of all time.

According to rival executives, a new pact for Lillard would almost certainly include a player option, something the guard bypassed on his previous deal.

Source: Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports

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Sources: Clippers ‘equally dangerous threat to Knicks’ to Sign Kevin Durant in Free Agency

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As for the bigger-picture matter of Durant’s future: I am unafraid to announce, with no trace of hot-takery, that firm predictions about what Durant will do when free agency starts in 40 days are ill-advised.

Within the last month, very smart and plugged-in people I have consulted say that the Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as an equally dangerous threat to the Knicks to sign Durant away from Golden State. And I believe it.

Problem is, at various points during the season, I have heard trusted insiders state with conviction that Durant is already planning to join the Knicks … and then that he is likely to consider the Nets as well … and now that he is eyeing the Clippers just as intently as New York.

It leads one to conclude that maybe the best forecast, at least for the moment, is that nobody but Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman know.

Source: Marc Stein of The New York Times

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Sources: Multiple Teams Expected to Pursue Tobias Harris in Free Agency

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According to several sources, the Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, and Brooklyn Nets are among the teams that will go after the forward in free agency. All five teams can offer maximum-salary contracts.

By trading for [Tobias] Harris, the Sixers acquired his Bird rights. That enables them to offer him a five-year, $188 million max contract.

Teams that don’t have his rights are only able to offer Harris a four-year, $141 million max contract in free agency. The Sixers will most likely have to offer the five-year maximum for him to stay.

Source: Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer

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