Report: Clippers still in the mix for Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that a deal now hinges on the Clippers' willingness to surrender two first-round draft picks in addition to DeAndre Jordan. According to Woj, the Celtics have relented on their demand that the Clippers take back long-term contracts (either Courtney Lee or Jason Terry), but want two first-rounders in addition to Jordan in a deal that would include Kevin Garnett and, separately, Doc Rivers.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne note a deal still has legs after "substantive discussions" Monday. One element of negotiations, Stein and Shelburne say, is negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers on a contract. Rivers currently makes around $7M a season and is reportedly looking to earn a similar amount if he moves from Boston to Los Angeles. "Numerous sources connected to talks continued to express optimism Monday that the Celtics and Clippers will eventually agree to terms this week," the report notes.
An NBA team can't formally trade away its coach, but the Celtics are nearing the functional equivalent during their extended trade talks with the Clippers. The discussions began in two distinct threads:
• L.A. has an established interest in acquiring Kevin Garnett, dating back to the February trade deadline. Given the way that both the Clippers and Celtics exited the playoffs prematurely, it's only natural that they might revisit their trade talks.
• Last week, it was reported that Doc Rivers and the Clippers would have a mutual interest should Rivers be released from his contract with the Celtics -- an event that seems increasingly likely as Boston changes directions and aims to rebuild.
Boston GM Danny Ainge has little reason to let Rivers out of the three years remaining on his current deal save for good will, and yet the bulk of reports indicate that Ainge and the Celtics may well be willing to let Rivers go. If that's the case, the Clippers are as sensible a destination as any. Rivers would be an easy fit for L.A. and would bring instant clout to the position no other candidate -- Brian Shaw, Lionel Hollins and Byron Scott among them -- could match.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the two teams have resurrected discussions of a potential deal for Garnett with the understanding that Rivers is part of the same package. Their report also notes that the Clippers are insistent on excluding 23-year-old guard Eric Bledsoe from any potential deal. That means a deal would center around the Celtics sending Garnett and Courtney Lee or Jason Terry to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler (on an expiring deal) and first-round draft picks. No deal has been made and thus there's plenty of room for adjustment, but those principals would net Boston a good young big man and shed long-term salary while landing L.A. a terrific new coach and an outstanding defender. The hope for the Clippers is not only to make the kinds of additions that would make them championship viable, but to first lure Chris Paul -- who will be an unrestricted free agent come July -- back on a multiyear deal.
Additionally, Stein's and Shelburne's report notes that Paul Pierce could become an unofficial component of this deal, as any move to trade Garnett or release Rivers could undoubtedly be followed by the choice to either trade or release Pierce. The long-tenured Celtics forward is guaranteed just $5 million in the final year of his contract, and thus can be released (or amnestied) at marginal cost to Boston, or could be traded to another team intent on releasing him toward those same ends.
The Celtics would have little use for Pierce without Garnett or vice versa, and tangled in the fate of both is the future of Rivers. As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com noted, Boston would likely benefit from parting ways with Rivers should the team decide to blow up its roster, as $7 million is a lofty sum to pay the head coach of a team in transition -- even a coach of Rivers' caliber. All told, all three (Rivers, Garnett and Pierce) could land with the Clippers -- an unprecedented porting of core and coach from one franchise to another. The three moves would each be separate in technical terms, but the basis for L.A. to acquire all three as a means of revamping its current lineup stems from its current talks to acquire Garnett.