Here’s your Saturday update on the Doc Rivers saga:
According to Mark Heisler, The Clippers are reportedly moving closer to financial terms with coaching candidate Byron Scott (4 years, $16-20M) with Brian Shaw still in the mix, in the neighborhood of 3 years and $9M. Nearing a deal with either one serves as both a counter-move to Rivers’ ostensible declaration of disinterest in the Clipper job yesterday and a hedge against it actually being true.
The Clippers almost certainly still favor Rivers (and, of course, Kevin Garnett, who only comes as part of the package for the head coach) but remain unwilling to give up a first round pick, particularly one in the rich 2014 draft. This despite it being the final piece of a puzzle that would allow them to fortify their team for a championship run next season.
As we’ve recently learned, Rivers did not create these trade talks by asking for a move to the Clippers. Danny Ainge was the one who conceptualized the Doc-to-LA trade and brought it to his head coach, when it became clear the Clippers had interest in his coach.
We know the Celtics’ clear preference is to retool, which would mean the departures of Garnett and Paul Pierce, however Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has a source indicating that Garnett could return to Boston next season. That wouldn’t happen without Rivers also returning, something he is reportedly considering this weekend.
Who has the leverage right now? It’s hard to tell. The Celtics do not want to pay an ambivalent Rivers $7M next season but should he return to broadcasting, they wouldn’t have to. And they’d still retain the right to compensation should he wish to coach elsewhere in the next three years. They will not let him go for free. So the Clippers’ leverage on that front is blunted. The Clippers remain beholden to Chris Paul, but may already have assurances he’d be willing to play for Scott, even if he’d prefer Rivers.
One interesting consideration: what is Ainge’s B-plan if he can’t close this deal with the Clippers? Is it to return the same core? Perhaps that’s something he’d consider if Rivers agrees to return. Or would he move Pierce and, by extension, force Garnett and Rivers into even more difficult decisions than they face now?
Lots of questions, not many answers right now. Stay tuned.