Sources confirmed on Sunday that the Los Angeles Clippers will sign Doc Rivers to a three-year contract worth $21 million. The Boston Celtics, who agreed to release Rivers from the remaining three years and $21 million remaining on his current contract, will receive a 2015 first-round draft pick as compensation in the deal.
While some thought that the league would block the deal, the NBA has approved the Clippers’ acquisition of Rivers. With the league’s approval, the official announcement of the deal is currently in the hands of the two teams.
Every joke about the Clippers being cheap, second-rate, and unable to keep or attract top talent instantly became outdated. The Clippers went from unwilling to pay a coach a reasonable salary to acquiring the highest-paid coach in the NBA.
It’s still uncertain whether those dominoes will include Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, whom the Clippers would also like to acquire to keep with Rivers, saving them from being part of Boston’s rebuilding plan. The Clippers wanted to trade DeAndre Jordan to Boston for Garnett, in addition to the Rivers deal, but NBA commissioner David Stern said such a deal in conjunction with the Rivers deal was against the league’s collective bargaining agreement. That doesn’t mean the sides won’t at least try making a deal again. But the fact that Garnett was willing to waive his “no trade” clause to play for the Clippers is another significant sign of change for the previously star-crossed franchise.
The rebuilding Celtics will be tasked with finding a replacement for Rivers, who coached Boston to a league championship in 2008 and an appearance in the NBA Finals two years later. The Celtics reached the playoffs in each of the past six seasons under Rivers, winning five consecutive Atlantic Division titles from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
The agent for Brian Shaw, who reportedly was a candidate for the Clippers job prior to the Rivers deal, is interested in the Celtics’ vacancy, his agent confirmed to the Boston Globe. The 47-year-old Shaw, an associate head coach with the Indiana Pacers, spent the first two-plus seasons of his playing career with the Celtics after being selected by Boston in the first round of the 1988 draft. “Shaw would enjoy working for the team that he started his career with,” his agent, Jerome Stanley, told the Globe.
In Los Angeles, Rivers inherits a 56-win team that captured the first division title in franchise history and a roster that includes two All-Stars in Chris Paul (once he officially re-signs, as is widely expected) and Blake Griffin. They also have a number of other talented pieces, including Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Paul has also shown the ability to act as a free-agent magnet, which will be helpful as the Clippers look to compete with the Spurs and Thunder next season.
The culture change is complete. The perception has been forever altered. The Clippers are officially here for the long haul.