The on-again, off-again talks between the Clippers and the Celtics to free Doc Rivers from his contract in Boston so he can coach in Los Angeles are back, and this time the teams appear to be closer than ever on making it happen.
Whether or not the league will allow it is another question entirely, and then there’s the fact that any deal for Rivers would strongly jeopardize the Clippers’ ability to then go out and try to get Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.
First, the latest news.
Talks started again on Sunday when the Clippers offered the Celtics a first-round pick to free Rivers from his contract with Boston, sources said.
Rivers and the Clippers are working on the language of a five-year, $35 million contract, and no agreement will be in place until those details are finalized, sources said.
A first-round draft pick may seem like too high a price for a tenured head coach, even one as proven as Rivers. But remember, Chris Paul has yet to declare his intentions in free agency, and even though it’s highly likely he returns to the Clippers thanks to all of the money he would need to pass up to play elsewhere, the franchise’s bumbling over this whole process wasn’t the best way to go about securing his return.
Now, the fun part.
Even if the teams finally do reach an agreement, there’s no guarantee the league will sign off on it. While no players are involved this time around, David Stern has already said that teams can’t trade a head coach’s contract, and if a deal to acquire Garnett should be attempted to follow this one, it’s far from a sure thing that it would be allowed by the commissioner’s office, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reminds us.
In the NBA’s view, nothing has changed regarding a Doc Rivers compensation deal. It’s not allowed to be attached to players, period.
League office will take a skeptical view of any Rivers transaction, sources say. Will be hard to sell as separate from player discussions.
If the Clippers have to choose between Rivers and aging players like Garnett and/or Pierce, taking the coach is right decision. But for now, we’re once again left waiting to see if this deal eventually gets completed with the NBA’s blessing.