Ever since news broke last week of the Celtics and Clippers having talks to send coach Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles, reports have treated the situation as an all-inclusive deal. In other words, Garnett waiving his no-trade clause to go to the Clippers would be contingent upon Rivers becoming the Clips’ coach, and vice versa.
That characterization has caused trouble for the teams now that they are nearing an agreement. The NBA, which does not allow coaches to be “traded” and prohibits transactions that are contingent upon each other, has some questions about the proposed agreement between the Celtics and Clippers, according to multiple reports.
NBA commissioner David Stern discussed the league’s concerns, to an extent, on ESPN Radio on Thursday.
“I would say, in the language of diplomacy, that the teams are aware that the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t authorize trades involving coaches’ contracts,” Stern said on the Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “The only consideration that can be done here in player transactions is other players, draft picks and a very limited amount of cash. But coaches’ contracts don’t qualify as extra consideration — or acceptable consideration — in player contracts.
“The teams know that. It has been confirmed to them. … What the rules won’t allow can’t be gotten around by breaking it up into two transactions.”
The Clippers, who had walked away from negotiations Monday night, came back to the bargaining table on Wednesday after Chris Paul pressured them to get the deal done. Under the most recent agreement, the Clippers would send center DeAndre Jordan to Boston for Garnett in a straight-up deal, while the Celtics would swap Rivers for two first-round picks.
Proving that the transactions are not separate might be hard, if not impossible, but the NBA is not required to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the transactions are related in order to kill the deal. Common sense alone is enough to scuttle the deal, as Stern pointed out facetiously in response to a question by Smith.
“If you would think that those, now, after being all over the media for the last week or whatever, are separate transactions, [then] when you get back from Miami, Stephen, I have a bridge that connects to Brooklyn that I would very much enjoy selling to you,” Stern said.
Stern was noncommittal on whether the league ultimately will veto the deal, although his comments could not have been encouraging for the Celtics and Clippers.
“I’m not saying more,” Stern said. “That’s it.”