So, the Clippers have narrowed their sights down to just Doc Rivers, but they’re not offering the Celtics anything to free the coach from his contract.
Sound fishy? Not if the Clippers aren’t really trying to get Rivers after all.
Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe reports that the activity surrounding a deal for Rivers is mostly a “bluff” meant to appease point guard Chris Paul, whom the Clippers hope to sign in free agency. Rivers is Paul’s preferred choice as coach, but the Clippers have no intention of giving up the pieces the Celtics have asked for in return for Rivers’ release, according to the report.
“The Clippers want to make an effort without really having any chance of getting it done,” a league source said, according to Holmes. “Chris Paul’s camp wanted Doc and [Kevin Garnett], and [owner] Donald Sterling and the Clippers did not. But they can’t come out and tell [Paul's camp] that they don’t want to win, so they’re trying to dance around it and play both sides.”
The impasse first came when what looked like a workable deal — Rivers and Garnett to the Clippers in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and two first-round picks — started to fall apart Thursday. Part of the concern was that NBA commissioner David Stern said such a deal would violate principles in the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which led the Clippers to look into ways to get just Rivers.
Sterling was said to be ready to pay Rivers $7 million a year for five years, but with the Clippers failing to offer the Celtics anything for Rivers, even that is now in question.
“Sterling, he’d rather die with billions of dollars than have a championship,” Holmes reports a league source as saying.
While the Clippers and Celtics have found ways around several other hurdles in the process, the big one — the fact that the guy who calls the shots with the Clippers may not want it to happen — makes it look like this may finally be the end of it all.