Forget Ray Allen. This is treason of a much higher kind.
When reports first arose last week that Doc Rivers hadn’t decided whether he wanted to coach another season in Boston, most saw the news as a formality. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had said Rivers would be back, and Rivers, who takes time each offseason to decide whether to return, seemed likely to coach again, whether or not that included Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.
But then word came that Rivers was looking for a “change,” and on the heels of that was the big one: Rivers wouldn’t just be jumping ship if he left — he’d be jumping ship to join another team.
ESPN reported Thursday that Rivers is “highly intrigued” by the idea of coaching the Los Angeles Clippers. Los Angeles is a young, talented team that is trying to woo back top-tier point guard Chris Paul. With the Celtics looking at the possibility of rebuilding and key cog Garnett having drawn the Clippers’ attention before, a Rivers-and-Garnett-to-the-West-Coast deal suddenly seemed like it could happen.
Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe has done some snooping himself, and word on the street does not look great for Celtics fans.
“If Doc is honest, his dream scenario is him coaching the Clippers with Kevin Garnett and a chance to win the championship,” Holmes reports a league source as saying.
Holmes said that if that does not work out, Rivers would likely go back into broadcasting.
The Clippers would have to pull out all the stops to get Rivers, who has a no-compete clause in his five-year deal with the Celtics (of which three years and $21 million remain). Ainge has already denied the Clippers an opportunity to speak with Rivers, according to Holmes, so the Clippers would have to suggest a trade package before negotiating could begin.
Garnett is considered likely to waive his no-trade clause if Rivers were to go to Los Angeles, Holmes reports.
“I would say that the ball is in [the Clippers'] court,” a league source told Holmes. “If they are aggressive and make a good offer, they could get something done soon.”
League sources also said there’s concern that the Clippers may not have the right pieces to send to Boston to free up Rivers, and that “a potential deal might include too many moving parts to pull off,” according to Holmes. Blake Griffin would not be a trade piece.
Another shred of good news in this for Boston fans wanting to see the current team try it one more time is that Pierce’s contract would likely be too big to include in a potential deal with the Clippers.
A lot of dominoes have to fall for Rivers to go to Los Angeles, but the silence that was formerly comforting now appears to be signaling the end of Rivers’ time on the Celtics’ bench, whether he ends up with the Clippers or not.