The Los Angeles Clippers acquired head coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics in exchange for a 2015 first-round draft pick in a move loaded with implications.
Clippers management believe the acquisition guarantees the return of all-star point guard Chris Paul, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Clippers hope to sign him to a five-year $107.3 million deal.
On the Boston side, they send away a coach who led them to a 2008 championship. The Celtics are headed toward rebuilding as stars Kevin Garnett, 37, and Paul Pierce, 35, appear too old to lead a team to a championship. Planning to build around All-Star point guard Rajon Rando, the Celtics are looking to hoard draft picks.
The final execution of the deal followed a familiar NBA offseason storyline: loud proclamations of a soon-to-be-completed deal, rapid cooling to the exchange on both sides with new demands hitting the table, stern proclamations of the deal “dying” followed a couple days later by resurrection and significantly quieter completion.
NBA teams do not simply trade their head coach for what will likely be a late first-round pick. It makes since that Celtics management would be willing to part with a coach scheduled to make $21 million over what they plan to be three losing seasons.
This was not the originally discussed trade. The two teams hoped to include Garnett, Clippers centre DeAndre Jordan and either another Clippers first-rounder or Clippers reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe. However, such a trade would violate the NBA collective bargaining agreement, which does not allow for trades to be contingent on each other.
The Celtics remain eager to move Garnett and Pierce. A trade involving future Clippers first-rounders and DeAndre Jordan in exchange for Garnett or Pierce or possibly both is not out of the question.
Further moves will have to pass the desk of NBA commissioner David Stern. Speaking on ESPN Radio “The Herd” last week Stern said:
“I would say that, if we know that what the parties really want to do is one [trade and] they are going to break it into two for purposes of trying to avoid the restrictions that the collective bargaining agreement places on it, we know how to deal with that.”
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan talked to a league source who said any further deals between the Celtics and Clippers will be considered related to this trade and likely rejected.
Stern drew the ire of many fans last offseason when he rejected a proposed trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers.
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