One of my favorite things to do when I’m bored is this (no, it is not graphic material):
Trading your favorite players to your favorite teams and feeling like a GM is a perfect way to waste the day away. As you may know, the Clippers and Celtics are in talks of a blockbuster trade that would send Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to the Clippers while DeAndre Jordan and who knows what else goes back to Boston. The teams have been talking about a potential trade since February and now it seems like it is this deal or bust for Doc Rivers as a coach next year.
Doc has 3 years and $21 million left on his deal from the 5 year deal he signed two years ago. I love Doc Rivers and I believe he is a top 5 coach in the league (Popovich is the best and no one is on his level but he is on the next tier) but there are 3 things knocking him.
Issue #1: Doc Rivers has benefited more than anyone from the KG Boston years. Rivers had a bumpy sting in Orlando and was on the verge of being fired in 2007 by the Celtics before Boston tanked to get a high draft pick. Then the Celtics became the big 3 by acquiring KG and Ray Allen and River was the coach of an NBA champion. Rivers benefited from a talent boost.
Issue #2: Rivers had arguably the best assistant coach in the NBA for the last 20 years. Tom Thibodeau, who is now the Chicago Bulls coach and one of the best coaches in the league, was the lead assistant on Rivers bench from 2007-2010. Thibs was the mastermind of the Boston defense that lead to the title.
Issue #3: Loyalty!
Rivers new what he was getting himself into when he signed the 5 year deal in May 2011. The Celtics would be rebuilding in part of the deal and Rivers would be the face of the rebuild with star Point Guard Rajon Rondo. This summer came and he said his future is up in the air and he didn’t know if he would be back with Boston next year. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is it for Rivers in Boston. If he isn’t part of a trade to the Clippers then he isn’t coaching next year. Rivers will be in a booth somewhere calling games, taking a year off.
Rivers is a great coach and worth the $7 million a year, which would cement Chris Paul’s future in Los Angeles but how much improvement is he then say Lionel Hollins. Hollins is a free agent coach, thanks to Memphis being near idiotic by not retaining him, and is the top candidate if the Rivers deal doesn’t go through. Is it worth trading you best trading assets in Bledsoe and Butler (expiring deals are like gold in the NBA) for Rivers over Hollins and maybe a year of KG? If the Clippers can get Garnett/Rivers for DeAndre and some picks then do it NOW! Including Bledsoe and/or Butler is a deal breaker because they can get better return than an aging Paul Pierce or bad contracts Courtney Lee/Jason Terry.
Danny Ainge is one of the best GM’s in the league and knows exactly the value of Bledsoe. The Celtics HAVE NO NEED FOR HIM. They already have an All-Star PG in Rondo and they have Avery Bradley who is nearly identical to Bledsoe. If the Celtics get Bledsoe, he will either be immediately traded for a Boston deal or Rondo who has higher trade value even coming off an ACL injury. The problem for Ainge seems to be the realization the Rivers is done if the deal doesn’t get through so getting compensation makes sense. The Celtics have a few bad contracts and if the Clippers take one or two on look for the deal to go through. Paul Pierce would be dealt also giving the Celtics financial flexibility for next summer’s Free Agent Frenzy.
If the deal doesn’t get done by Tuesday, I would expect the Clippers to announce Lionel Hollins as their new head coach on Wednesday. I do think though, a deal gets done today or tomorrow. Ainge is wise and will budge on his stand for Bledsoe if the Clippers take on Courtney Lee and/or Jason Terry’s contracts. Courtney Lee could be a perfect fit for the Clippers while Jason Terry has no use on the team since they already have a taller version of him named Jamal Crawford. Look for a deal of Rivers/Garnett/Lee for Jordan/2 First Round Picks/Willie Green to get done or something very similar. The Clippers will get what they wanted in Rivers & Garnett and still having Bledsoe to trade to another suitor like Indiana for Danny Granger or Orlando for Aaron Afflalo or do I dare say the Lakers for a potential Dwight Howard deal…