These teams just do not do the predictable when it comes to trades. The Celtics and the Clippers are discussing a proposal to send coach Doc Rivers and forward Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles in return for center DeAndre Jordan and a No. 1 pick. There could be additional draft picks or spare parts added to make the deal pass salary-cap muster.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul reportedly is pushing hard for the deal as a condition of him re-signing with the team, moving the historically difficult-to-deal-with Clippers owner Donald Sterling to the background.
If the deal is completed, it would most likely signal the end of Paul Pierce’s 15-year career with the Celtics. The team has a $5-million (all currency in U.S.) buyout option on his contract, which must be exercised by June 30.
If the Celtics do not trade him before then, they would probably exercise the option to continue the rebuilding process, which Pierce wants no part of. He has one year left on his contract, at more than $15-million, and has said he intends to play next season. He turns 36 in October.
There has been speculation that Pierce may join the Clippers if the Celtics waive him.
A person briefed on the discussions said Monday that Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president for basketball operations, originally wanted the young point guard Eric Bledsoe included in the deal and was trying to convince the reluctant Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck to allow Rivers to leave two years into a five-year, $35-million deal. The Clippers have since said the inclusion of Bledsoe is a non-starter, which caused an earlier proposal to collapse.
Reports on Monday, however, indicated the teams were talking again, with Ainge asking the Clippers to take either Jason Terry or Courtney Lee. That could involve the Celtics taking back the expiring contract of Caron Butler.
Garnett, who turned 37 in May, would have to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to be completed, something he reportedly would do if it meant staying with Rivers, whom he admires.
Should no deal occur, the person briefed on the discussions said the Celtics would hasten the rebuilding process by using their amnesty card on Garnett, who is due more than $18-million over the next two years, and then exercising the Pierce buyout.
Attempts to reach Rivers and Ainge on Monday were unsuccessful.
The inclusion of Rivers in the proposed trade is fitting seamlessly into the tortured history of complicated, unconventional Celtics-Clippers transactions.In 1978, the owner of the Celtics was Irv Levin, a Hollywood film producer and business executive. He wanted a franchise in Southern California. He convinced the owner of the Buffalo Braves, the Kentucky Fried Chicken mogul John Y. Brown, to exchange franchises and moved the Braves to San Diego.
Several players also were included in the deal, including Nate Archibald, Marvin Barnes, Sidney Wicks and Kermit Washington. Levin sold the San Diego team, renamed the Clippers, to Sterling in 1981 and, in 1984, Sterling moved the team to Los Angeles.
In 1985, the Celtics had their eyes on Walton, who had signed with the Clippers as a free agent in 1979, but who played in only 14 games in his first three years because of injuries. The Celtics offered Cedric Maxwell and a No. 1 pick for Walton, but the Clippers and Sterling made things difficult.
Alan Cohen, the Celtics’ owner in 1985, once said of Sterling: “Donald is the nicest, sweetest guy who will give you two dimes for a quarter and think he’s doing you a favour.”
Sterling’s own general manager at the time, Carl Scheer, said of his boss: “Dealing with Donald was impossible. He could not make up his mind. If he took an elevator down, he’d ask the operator what he thought and by the time he reached the lobby, he’d changed his mind.”
Both sides called the trade dead but it eventually went through in September 1985. Walton helped the Celtics to an NBA title the next season, earning Sixth Man of the Year honours. He appeared in a career-high 80 games.
Now the key player is not a player at all, but Rivers, a highly regarded coach who spent one season with the Clippers as a player. Rivers just completed his ninth season with the Celtics. He would replace Vinny Del Negro, whose contract was not renewed.