The Los Angeles Clippers transformed into serious NBA title contenders this offseason, as they brought in head coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics and made a key trade that brought them J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley.
But owner Donald Sterling almost never let that trade happen, and the coach may have resigned before taking the court with Los Angeles.
According to a report from Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Sterling almost stopped the three-team trade, which sent guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the Suns' Jared Dudley and the Milwaukee Bucks' Redick (in a sign-and-trade).
Sterling's decision — which has become customary in what is viewed as a dysfunctional organization — infuriated Rivers, who came to the Clippers in the offseason on a three-year, $21 million deal.
From Wojnarowski's report:
With Sterling, rational thought and debate aren't always part of the discussion. Whatever his reasons, everyone else awaited Rivers' conversations with Sterling. Rivers' contract gave him ultimate management authority on deals, and several sources dealing with the Clippers say that Rivers was beyond embarrassed and humiliated. He feared the unraveling of the deal would cost him his credibility and paralyze him in future trade and negotiation talks, sources said.
What frustrated Rivers even more, according to Wojnarowski, was how he had personally lobbied and convinced Redick to come to Los Angeles. Redick did not have a back-up plan.
Sources in the Clippers organization told Wojnarowski that they believed Rivers could have resigned if, in the next 72 hours, Sterling hadn't changed his mind and let the trade go through again.
"It never got to that," one source told Yahoo Sports, "but it might have had Sterling not come around."