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NBA Trade Rumors -- Mostly dead is slightly alive

Don't close the book on Rivers and Garnett to the Clippers just yet. As we said yesterday, until the Clippers actually hire a coach, this deal could still happen.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

For what it's worth, and consistent with what we said about the status of the deal between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Boston Celtics upon it's reported "death" yesterday, several reporters are now saying that the deal could very well be resurrected at any time until the Clippers actually hire a different coach. When talks broke off yesterday, the teams were very close -- the remaining sticking point was a future draft pick that figures to be very late in the first round. Will they really let what appears to be a win-win trade die over the 28th pick in the 2015 draft? It's possible that the both sides are bluffing, hoping the other guy blinks.

From Brad Turner's story in the LA Times today:

Even with both sides saying they'd had their last conversation about the complicated deal, several NBA executives said it won't truly be over until the Clippers actually hire a coach who is not named Doc Rivers.

We also have these Tweets from Mark Heisler on the subject:

None of this is really news of course -- just confirming what we already knew. Doc is meeting with Danny Ainge in Boston today; we'll see how that goes. Can the Celtics get the toothpaste back into the tube? It won't be easy. One wonders which outcome Ainge would actually prefer at this point -- does he want to pay a lukewarm Rivers $21MM for three years of rebuilding, or would he rather Doc walk away and return to the broadcast booth, or maybe just spend his time watching Austin play for the Pelicans? And of course the fates of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are far from clear.

I also wonder, and maybe I'm being naive here, if Rivers were to honestly tell Ainge that his first choice for next season is to coach the Clippers and he has no interest in returning to Boston, if Ainge becomes more willing to relent on his demands in order to help Doc out. Rivers has done a lot for the Celtics over the past nine seasons after all. Would helping him get into a good situation (and I'm speculating of course about how Doc may feel) be a factor for Ainge?

The "deadlines" here are relatively soft at this point, but there are nonetheless some significant milestones looming in the coming days. The Clippers would probably prefer to have a coach in place by draft day -- but they don't have to (Vinny Del Negro was hired after the draft in 2010, but Neil Olshey seemed to have a different approach on that than does Gary Sacks). Draft day is also a busy day for trades -- if the Clippers have an opportunity to move Eric Bledsoe for a draft pick (or even DeAndre Jordan for that matter), the status of the Celtics deal could be a factor. Do they move forward with other plans and assume the deal is dead?

Then there is the status of Pierce's contract. If the Celtics waive him by June 30, just 11 days away, they can save about $10MM next season. What they do with Pierce will send a clear message to Rivers and Garnett about the immediate future in Boston. If by some chance this saga is still playing out at that time, the dominoes will fall once and for all at that point, one way or another.