I feel compelled to write a quick reaction post regarding Adrian Wojnarowski's Yahoo! story that the Bledsoe-Redick-Dudley deal -- and potentially even the tenure of Doc Rivers as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers -- was very nearly scuttled at the last minute by Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
I assume there is a basis in truth for Woj's story. Having said that, we've just come off a summer that allowed close scrutiny of many of his stories, and he didn't come away looking so great. He was more than willing to put out versions of stories that made his sources happy -- without much concern for whether those versions were correct or even made a ton of sense. (Doc Rivers ended the negotiations because he was fed up with the haggling over a draft pick? Really? Why would he do that?)
At any rate, while I do assume that there's some basis in truth to this Sterling story, I also feel very certain that Woj is sensationalizing things as much as he possibly can. If you haven't read it, here are the basics according to the piece:
- After all parties including Sterling had already agreed to the deal, Sterling changed his mind, and sent Andy Roeser to tell Doc the deal was off;
- This was over 4th of July weekend, and Sterling was on an undisclosed beach somewhere;
- All of the players and agents were in a panic that the deal was dead, especially Redick who'd turned down an offer from the Wolves, only to see them sign Kevin Martin subsequently -- Redick stood to lose a lot of money if the deal fell through;
- Rivers was able to convince Sterling to go forward with the deal either by threatening to resign -- or not -- Woj is not very clear on this point.
Here's an alternative telling of the story, that doesn't involve apocalyptic imagery or use of the words "dysfunction", "humiliated" or "livid" or the phrase "unleash unholy hell":
The Clippers, Bucks and Suns agreed to a three team deal on July 2, but the deal couldn't be signed until the moratorium was lifted over a week later. During the moratorium, Sterling had second thoughts. Rivers talked to him, convinced him to go forward, and the deal was signed as planned when the moratorium was lifted. The end.
Look, Donald Sterling is a piece of work, we all know that. But isn't this story, pretty much any way you slice it, good news, at least for Clippers fans? Sterling tried to pull his meddling owner crap, Doc wasn't having it, Sterling said OK. Yay! Basketball people FTW!
It's pretty hard to imagine that the situation was ever nearly so dire as Woj implies. With three front offices, three players and three sets of agents involved, I really don't see this type of "unholy hell" staying quiet for nearly four months. Woj doesn't even really seem sold on his premise himself. He says that Rivers would have resigned had it come to that -- but admits that it didn't come to that, while quoting another source who says he wouldn't have resigned.
We can't really know exactly what happened -- but we do know that Redick and Dudley are Clippers and Rivers is still the coach, and they all seem happy. So I guess the dysfunction isn't that bad after all.