HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Good luck deciphering what’s real and what’s patently absurd in regards to the on-again, off-again saga that is the Los Angeles Clippers’ pursuit of Doc Rivers as their next coach.
Franchises making trades to appease coaches, who in turn will walk away from one team to coach another … it’s news from basketball’s bizarro world. And free agency is still two weeks away.
As of this morning, Rivers remains the Boston Celtics’ coach, with three years and $21 million on a contract that the Celtics would love for him to see through. The Clippers have two other prime choices, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, ready and willing to take over the reins of a franchise coming off its finest season in history.
But how long Rivers remains the Celtics’ coach could be up in the air, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The sides have reportedly rekindled talks that stalled over the weekend and trying to put the finishing touches on a deal that would send Kevin Garnett and Rivers to the Clippers in a deal that would include Eric Bledsoe and perhaps DeAndre Jordan, along with other assets:
Discussions over a blockbuster deal reached an impasse on Saturday when Boston general manager Danny Ainge held firm that Bledsoe had to be a part of package that included DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick, but sources say that Boston has shown a willingness to find another asset to supplant Bledsoe and complete the complicated deal, sources said.
The Clippers are prepared to give Rivers a five-year deal to coach and believe acquiring Rivers and Garnett – who will waive his no-trade clause – will lock up the re-signing of free-agent superstar Chris Paul, sources said.
The prospects of bringing Rivers back to the Celtics have become less appealing for Boston, who understand, as one league executive said, “There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. You can’t pretend this didn’t happen and just go back to work.”
Even if we are to believe that a Clippers-Celtics trade is contingent upon the Celtics getting their hands on Bledsoe, we all have to swallow the reality that this is still a system where marquee coaches and players continue to rule the world. Because no fringe player should ever hold up a slam-dunk deal that involves a franchise starving for direction and leadership missing out on a leader like Rivers.
The complications arise when you try to figure out what Rivers has in mind without hearing him explain it. He hasn’t uttered a public word about his intentions, leaving others to speculate about what it is he plans to do regarding his future — with the Celtics and in coaching altogether.
With a report surfacing that Rivers could opt for a return to the broadcast booth either way, the Clippers and Celtics could be going through all of this for nothing (according to A. Sherrod Blakely of the CSSNE.com):
The potential trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have freed up Doc Rivers to coach them is still considered a no-go.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean Rivers will be back on the sidelines as the Celtics head coach this season.
A league source tells CSNNE.com that Rivers has not entirely ruled out taking some time off to resume his broadcasting career and return afterwards to coach.
“You guys (media) have been around Doc long enough to know that’s always been something he’s talked about,” the source said. “So it shouldn’t come as a surprise. And frankly, now is probably as good a time as any for him to go that route.”
If Rivers needs an escape route for the rebuilding process that seems inevitable in Boston, rekindling his broadcast roots might be the best route. The ill will a potential move to the Clippers’ bench will foster in Boston will be severe.
But if the Clippers are serious not only about acquiring Rivers, Garnett and Paul Pierce to pair with Paul, but also pursuing and eventually adding Dwight Howard, who is central to Phase II of this fantasy basketball plot, consider me impressed by the audacity of the Clippers to dream this big.
Never mind that the Lakers still believe that Howard will stick around. Building a future around the game’s best big man is much easier to do than building around an All-Star like Blake Griffin, who would have to be a part of any theoretical sign-and-trade deal.
(The Lakers doing this sort of business with the Clippers is yet another patently absurd idea that, in this environment, is every bit as plausible as anything else we’ve heard.)
If all of this hinged on the return of an injured stars like, say, Kobe Bryant or Rajon Rondo, all of the hand-wringing over the minutiae would make a little more sense. Any time there is a potential blockbuster deal to be made, you have to be willing to listen. Ainge has always been willing to do so and the Lakers and Clippers have not been strangers to the blockbuster in recent seasons (both Paul and Howard were acquired via blockbuster deals).
But for all of this to rest on the shoulders of Paul’s backup, albeit a talented young player in his own right, just doesn’t seem right.