As the Boston Celtics enter yet another offseason with rumors flying in every direction, it seems as if the Los Angeles Clippers are a possibility to finally help them tear down the remnants of what they once were.
As it stands, reports continue to arise that the Clippers are interested in a deal that would send Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and even Boston head coach Doc Rivers from the East Coast to the West Coast. Per Marc Stein of ESPN:
There's a rising belief around the NBA that Doc, KG & Pierce all want to carry on as a trio in Clipperland if they can't roll on in Boston— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 15, 2013
According to the Boston Herald, talks between the two teams have begun as mutual interest creeps up. It could be a long road ahead, but it's possible that a deal unfolds over the next few weeks, or even months.
So, what might a deal with the Clippers look like, and would the Celtics' sacrifice be worth the return?
First, let's take a look at the simpler part of the move: getting Pierce and Garnett to Los Angeles.
Pierce and Garnett
Perhaps most important of all, we know that Garnett would waive his no-trade clause if the Clippers and Celtics are able to get a deal down, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
If Celtics and Clippers can finalize a deal that includes Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett will waive his no-trade clause, league sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 15, 2013
A lot of this supposed deal would depend on how soon the Clippers expect to seriously contend for a title.
Los Angeles has to realize that any team surrounding Garnett and Pierce would be significantly weaker even a year or two into the future.
At the most, it seems L.A. would get two years of high-level play from Garnett and anywhere between two and four from Pierce.
The two could continue to play at a lower level for a few subsequent seasons, but it remains to be seen how the lessened pressure to score would impact their game.
Getting them to Los Angeles would mean the Clippers creating a deal around DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe, at the very least.
Beyond that, Los Angeles is likely going to have to add in Caron Butler and Willie Green in order to get salaries to match, although Jamal Crawford could be a possibility as well.
While it seems like trading either Pierce or Garnett straight up for Jordan, Bledsoe and Green—and then buying out the other player in order to take back fewer contracts—makes sense for Boston, it doesn't work under the current collective bargaining agreement .
A player who has his contract bought out still counts against his original team's salary cap, so they would not only be paying one of the two to become free agents, but they'd also have to endure the cap hit.
Boston using its amnesty provision on Pierce is also an option, but he wouldn't make it past the bidding process to become a free agent.
ESPN's Larry Coon and Arash Markazi detail how a trade would likely go down based on the CBA. Basically, it could be broken down into two separate trades—that way the Clippers could take back a larger percentage of salary, compared to one mega-deal.
The distinction they're making between before and after July 1 is based on the NBA free-agency period, which starts on that date. That means players would be under their 2013-14 season contracts after July 1 rather than 2012-13.
That means the Clippers would go to the second option, which would be doing two separate trades. In this scenario, according to Coon, they get 150 percent or $5 million rather than just the 125 percent they get by acquiring them together. So they could trade Jordan and Bledsoe for Pierce and then Butler for Garnett. These two separate but parallel trades would work from a numbers standpoint.
If they wait until after July 1, they need to send out $22,133,656 if they wanted to trade for both together. Jordan and Butler add up to $18,986,550, so they'd need another $3,147,106. Bledsoe and Green would add up to enough.
Separately they'd need to send out $7,433,735 for Garnett, and Butler is still enough there, and they'd need to send out $10,155,556 for Pierce, and Jordan is enough but the Clippers would likely be forced to add Bledsoe as well.
Boston is in a strange situation, however, as one of the main pieces of the trade would be a guard.
With Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley at the center of the Celtics' rebuild, they might want to find another player to bring in besides Bledsoe.
That would likely mean a third team getting involved, which is a typical option when there are so many high-level players involved.
That brings us to trading the Celtics head coach, which is definitely an unusual situation. Unusual, but not unprecedented.
Rivers has a "non-compete clause" in his contract that states he can't coach in the NBA again until his current contract is up, unless the Celtics give him permission to do so.
That gives Celtics president Danny Ainge a bit of leverage with Rivers. If the Clippers specifically want Rivers, Ainge could ask for a few draft picks in return.
In the end, if a deal goes down between the two teams, look for at least a future first-round pick to be included in order to release Rivers from his contract.
While any kind of contract is far from in place, talks between the two teams could definitely heat up over the next few weeks if the trade looks to be mutually beneficial.
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