Now that the Celtics and the Clippers have finally reached an agreement that will see Doc Rivers patrolling the sidelines in Los Angeles next season, the questions in Boston now turn to the futures of both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Garnett was originally included as part of the package for Rivers, before commissioner David Stern came out publicly and said that league rules don’t allow trades involving both players and coaches.
But a completely separate deal involving Garnett would be similarly struck down, as well.
League and teams sources also confirmed that for now, any deal involving Garnett and the Clippers is on hold in light of commissioner David Stern’s objections to the appearance that the KG deal (for DeAndre Jordan) and Rivers were related.
One source with knowledge of the NBA’s thinking told ESPN.com that the league does not intend to change its stance as expressed by Stern in multiple radio interviews Thursday, meaning that the league would view any subsequent trade agreement between the Celtics and Clippers involving Garnett to be part of the Rivers deal and thus in violation of league rules.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com also reports that the Rivers deal comes with the understanding that no subsequent deals will be made between the two teams.
Rivers escapes the rebuild in Boston, but Garnett and Pierce won’t be following him to the Clippers. Does that mean they’ll be back with the Celtics next season?
It’s extremely murky at this point.
Garnett has a no-trade clause, and is on the books for two more years at over $11.5 million next season and $12 million in the one that follows. It’s always possible he could choose retirement over playing for a new head coach with a depleted roster, or he could try to force the team to deal him to a more desirable destination.
As for Pierce, he has one year remaining on his contract at over $15 million, but it’s not fully guaranteed. The Celtics can buy him out for $5 million before June 30, shedding his salary from the books in the process.
Of course, another plausible scenario in Boston would involve GM Danny Ainge bringing everyone back for yet another “one more run” at a title, albeit with a new head coach. With Rajon Rondo returning from a torn ACL injury, the Celtics would once again be considered a dangerous and intriguing team in the East.
But by jettisoning Rivers, you have to believe that the brass in Boston feels it’s time to enter a rebuilding phase sooner rather than later. And if that’s the case, then it’s hard to envision Garnett and Pierce returning to play for the Celtics next season.