Clips-Celtics deal for Rivers awaits league approval
JUN 23, 2013 1:14p ET
In the end, their mutual desire for each other rose above all other impediments, which is why the Clippers and the Boston Celtics reached an agreement Sunday that will allow Rivers to coach the Clippers for the next three seasons.
Although the NBA still must approve the transaction, the deal would allow the Clippers to take two major steps forward in building a title contender for next season: They’ll have Rivers signed for the remaining three years and $21 million he would have been paid by the Celtics, and they’ll virtually assure themselves of re-signing point guard Chris Paul, who can become a free agent on July 1.
According to various reports, Paul strongly supported the Clippers’ pursuit of Rivers and had indicated he was ready to sign a max five-year deal if it happened.
The Clippers agreed to send a 2015 first-round draft pick in exchange for the right to hire Rivers. Compensation had been a sticking point in negotiations, with the Clippers refusing to budge on the Celtics’ asking price of a first-round pick in 2014, which is expected to yield a good crop of college players.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the breakthrough in negotiations on Sunday, citing league sources that said the Clippers were prepared to offer a first-round draft pick.
Talks between the clubs heated up again after it appeared a deal was dead on Friday. Rivers told the Clippers he was no longer interested in the job, according to Yahoo!, and returned to his Orlando home. But in retrospect, it was seen as a cooling-off period that would allow Clippers and Celtics executives to reassess their stances.
Although the Clippers now appear to have secured the services of Rivers, there is no guarantee that the other half of the original deal – Boston forward Kevin Garnett also coming to Los Angeles for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan – will also happen.
According to ESPNBoston.com, a trade for Garnett will still be viewed harshly by the league office since it would appear to be part of the Rivers transaction, which NBA commissioner David Stern declared last week was against the collective bargaining agreement. A coach cannot be traded for a player, according to the CBA, and ESPN reported that sources said the league is unlikely to change its stance.
But the Clippers still secured their primary target in Rivers, who reportedly preferred not to return to a Celtics team that is going to rebuild.
Although Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he wanted Rivers to return, there were reports Ainge was hoping to secure the best return for Rivers and Garnett.
The Celtics have a news conference scheduled for Monday, and it’s expected that Rivers will explain his reasons for preferring to move on rather than stay in Boston.
The Clippers have not yet announced a day or time for a news conference to officially introduce Rivers, but that will probably come Tuesday or Wednesday.