The Los Angeles Clippers wisely rejected the Boston Celtics’ crazy ransom request for coach Doc Rivers on Saturday.
According to Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe, the C’s were looking to bring center DeAndre Jordan, guard Eric Bledsoe and two draft picks in exchange for their head coach and, possibly, veteran forward Kevin Garnett. As Holmes notes, "Rivers has a non-compete clause in the five-year extension he signed in 2011, which means he can’t coach another NBA team during that deal unless the Celtics grant permission."
Clippers general manager Gary Sacks was wise to balk at the proposal, as a head coach and creaky 37-year-old veteran are simply not worth four of the organization's best movable assets.
And this is all assuming KG would have waived his no-trade clause— something he was unwilling to do back in February to the Clips, when he stated he would retire a Celtic and be “buried in green.” Regardless, the prevailing thought is that he would've been willing to waive the clause and follow Rivers—his coach since being traded to Boston back in 2007—to Tinseltown.
Rivers does seem to be more valuable to the Clippers than his current employer. As a league source relayed to the Globe's Holmes, unrestricted free agent Chris Paul would be a virtual lock to re-sign with the organization if it acquired the 2008 NBA Finals-winning coach.
The Celtics may still have some semblance of a championship roster, with proven winners like Rajon Rondo set to return at some point during the 2013-14 campaign, Paul Pierce and the Big Ticket. But the team is on the cusp of being forced into rebuild mode.
Considering Rivers is in the midst of a five-year extension he signed in 2011—which pays him approximately $7 million annually—it makes sense for GM Danny Ainge to jettison the highest-paid coach in the league in return for a wealth of young talent.
But again, the Clippers would be downright foolish to give up the farm in order to bring in a coach that CP3 would like to play for.
Without Jordan, Bledsoe and those two picks, it’s near impossible to imagine a scenario in which L.A. is able to acquire the talent required to best teams in the Western Conference, let alone a powerhouse like the Miami Heat.
There’s also the major issue of head coaches not having the level of impact that most folks tend to believe.
Dave Berri of Freakonomics.com points out an International Journal of Sport Finance study he helped conduct, which "found that most NBA coaches across a sample covering 30 years did not have a statistically significant impact on player productivity."
Berri also cites numerous other studies that are highly suggested readings for basketball fans everywhere.
L.A.’s best chance to retain Paul and win a championship lies in recruiting a proven, veteran coach who is currently looking for work at a reasonable cost. Then it can parlay those four assets that the Celtics asked for into a slew of veteran talent, convincing CP3 to sign a long-term extension with the club.
While Doc Rivers may have a championship pedigree and near-universal respect around the league, there are plenty of unemployed coaches who can get the same level of production out of the Clippers roster.
The Clippers made the right call to hang up on Ainge and his ludicrous demands, and must not waver in their decision to not give up anything of significant value in order to acquire Rivers.