Season 4 of The Walking Dead starts in October, World War Z opens Friday... and the zombie deal between the Clippers and the Celtics is walking around about 30 hours after being declared "dead." Seems like they tried to put this deal on the cart a bit prematurely (hat tip to citizen BoltsFan for the Holy Grail suggestion). Or if you prefer musicals, you can have the Spamalot version.
Quick recap, if you're new here: the Celtics would allow head coach Doc Rivers out of his non-compete clause and trade Kevin Garnett to the Clippers in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and a first round draft pick or picks -- with singular or plural being the final sticking point. The deal would also cost the Clippers a fair amount of cash -- the Celtics want them to pay Jordan's $3.5MM trade kicker, and they'd need to negotiate a new contract for Rivers, likely in the 5 year, $35MM range.
Let's face it -- this deal makes too much sense for both sides for it NOT to get done. When we conducted a poll early in the negotiations, the majority of Clips Nation would have done the deal even when it included two picks AND Eric Bledsoe. Gary Sacks has driven a harder bargain than that already, and he may get more concessions still -- but the deal pretty much needs to be done. As much sense as it makes for the Clippers, it makes even more sense for Boston -- they want and need to begin their rebuild, and the Clippers are the only game in town when it comes to flipping Rivers and Garnett for assets. If they don't trade with the Clippers, they're stuck with those guys. They're nice guys and all -- but Boston knows it's time to move on.
Who blinked this time? According to Adrian Wojnarowski, it was the Clippers who reached out to the Celtics this afternoon, perhaps with a "nudge" from Chris Paul. It only made sense to place a phone call after Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers spoke of course: "Hey, Danny, how'd if go with Doc?" For all we know, that call might have been asking if Rivers was still available -- and when he was, the talks began again. Woj also says that parties on both sides really wanted to resume talks, and were just looking for an excuse:
Behind the scenes, there have been several factions trying to restart the talks, and everyone involved - the Clippers, Celtics and Rivers - have been waiting for someone to make the first move, sources said.
It's difficult to imagine talks breaking off again without a deal. How do you get within a single draft pick of a deal involving upwards of $120MM in coach and player salary, reopen negotiations, and still not reach an agreement?
The bit about Paul's involvement is intriguing -- though I'm not sure whether to take it at face value. I would be shocked if the Clippers weren't taking his pulse on the situation all along, so it's highly unlikely that Paul woke up this morning, read the LA Times, heard about a potential deal for the first time, and then called Sacks and said "Get me Rivers or I'm outta here in free agency." If Paul is indeed involved, it's likely at more of a buyer's remorse level: "I know I said I was fine with the other coaches, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of playing for Doc. Let's try to make this happen." Paul has gone to great lengths not to be perceived as a kingmaker in the Clippers organization -- I find it difficult to believe that he issued any sort of an ultimatum.
However the sides got back to the negotiating table, it's a positive development for the Clippers, who would clearly benefit from this deal. It would have been nice were it the Celtics crawling back -- but we'll have to wait and see if any leverage was sacrificed. Even if the Clippers end up losing the second pick, it's still a good trade, and the real coup for Sacks was in keeping Bledsoe out of the deal.
An agreement was close before; they're back talking about it today. I wouldn't be surprised if they have a deal done by the evening, and apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way:
Latest w/@ramonashelburne: One source close to Clips/Celts talks expressing optimism parties could agree to trade terms as soon as tonight— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 19, 2013