Speculation over player trades is one thing, but hearing a coach’s name mentioned as a tradable commodity is bizarre in any circle of the sporting world.
The last time I can remember a coach being used in the trade market was John Gruden, once of the Oakland Raiders, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he eventually won a Super Bowl over his former team. Now, Doc Rivers could be the next team figurehead to make his way to a new destination across the continent via the trade market.
Rivers has three years remaining on his deal with the Celtics, but as NBA.com’s Sekou Smith points out in a recent blog post, it’s unlikely that will happen now just given the fact that this strange deal is something the coach has considered, quoting a league source as saying, “There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. You can’t pretend this didn’t happen and just go back to work.”
That has opened up speculation that Rivers could return to the broadcast booth, something he has always talked about, but right now the deal is still on the table that could land him in L.A. with a new star point guard and ownership with big pie in the sky dreams.
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Kevin Garnett is a key component to the exchange as he is willing to waive his no-trade clause to make the move. With the Clippers sending DeAndre Jordan and first round pick the other way for certain, Boston isn’t giving up the 37-year old veteran and the coach that led them back to the promise land in 2008 for nothing, but is it enough?
The deal was said to be left on the table this last weekend because the Celtics wanted the it to include Clippers backup guard Eric Bledsoe. Not surprisingly, the Clippers felt that Jordan for Garnett and at least one first round draft pick was enough for the deal to get done, but it’s not dead yet as the Celtics will certainly have to listen considering they need to dump Garnett’s contract for a player who can be part of their long term future and the awkwardness of the deal with Rivers maybe staining their relationship with the coach.
BEST CASE SCENARIO
The way this deal works out best for everyone is for the Clippers to give up their first round pick each of the next two years and send some cash Boston’s way along with Jordan. The Clippers keep Bledsoe and land Rivers and Garnett.
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Signing Rivers essentially ensures the Clippers ability to re-sign Chris Paul, who has been rumored recently to be looking to team up with Dwight Howard. If Paul signs, there are “phase two” rumors that include the Clippers trading Blake Griffin in an attempt to clear cap space to sign Howard. These are lofty ideas, but not impossible as Griffin is a commodity. His marketability is high and ability easy to see, but his declining statistics since his rookie year and inability to play in the post probably doesn’t bode well for a future in Los Angeles.
Garnett’s deal is an expiring $12 million, leaving the Clippers with little responsibility after next year, so even if they didn’t move Griffin or sign Howard they would still have the flexibility to try and make a move next season with Paul enlisted and Rivers locked in for the foreseeable future.
In Boston, the deal makes sense so that they can try to add young talent through the draft while acquiring a much younger center that can play defense. Jordan isn’t a key piece to an offensive game plan the way Garnett once was, but the Celtics weren’t getting that from Garnett over the last year anyhow and won’t have to worry about injury issues while paying Jordan $2 million less per season. He can make a decent pick and roll partner for Rajon Rondo and front court partner for whatever defensively deficient power forward they start next year, be it Brandon Bass or Jeff Green.
In any case, this deal would fall under the category of “major blockbuster” and show that the Clippers are intent on shifting the balance of power in L.A. The odds of us seeing Rivers on the sideline at TD Garden for the Celtics next season are growing slimmer as one of the most bizarre deals in recent NBA history looms over the final days of the NBA season.