As the rest of the world focused on an epic game seven, Clipper (and Celtic) fans hold their collective breath.
After it appeared two nights ago that the Clippers and Celtics had arrived at a deal which would send DeAndre Jordan and two first round draft picks and get back Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers, the league office killed the deal, determining that a coach could not be traded for a player and there could be no side deals.
Brad Turner of the LA Times had this scary bit:
Even if the Clippers and Celtics tried to break the trade into separate transactions - a deal for Rivers, and a second deal later involving Garnett - the NBA would frown upon that because there is an apparent linkage between them. "They are chasing the tooth fairy," an NBA official said.
In other words, the league might NEVER approve this deal, even if the teams break it into pieces.
Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein reported that the Clips would, for the moment, change tactics and pursue only Rivers (presumably by offering the Celtics a single compensatory draft pick), the Clips then seemed to back out, (at least according to Adrian Wojnarowski)... and pulled the offer of ANY compensation for Rivers.
Wojnarowski starts out like this:
The Los Angeles Clippers are continuing to withhold any offers of compensation to secure the rights to Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and are threatening to blow up the blockbuster deal they've negotiated with the coach....
The Clips are threatening to blow up the deal?! Really? Seems like the league ALREADY blew up the deal, didn't they? What exactly is going on here? Wojnarowski, then gets out another knife and continues:
After Clippers management privately insisted to people that they were awaiting approval of owner Donald Sterling on draft-pick compensation for Rivers, no offer has been made to the Celtics and there's growing concern in multiple corners of these talks that the Clippers' front office has no authority to meet Boston's request of a first-round pick to bring Rivers to Los Angeles as coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Hmm... first of all, it becomes pretty obvious who Wojnarowski's source is... it's the Celtics, who are understandably frustrated with the deal but, in effect, threw their trade partner under the bust by essentially calling them, "same old Clippers".
Clipper management presumably had approval on a new Rivers contract and on a deal that would include draft picks, Jordan, Rivers, and Garnett. The new deal is presumably quite different as it perhaps would include only a pick (or two) and Rivers. Might the Clippers hesitate on the issue? Seems reasonable to me. After all, the Clippers were initially (back in February) only in pursuit of Garnett. Doc Rivers jumped on the bus, and the price went up. Now the deal is only for Rivers... with no guarantee they will ever be able to acquire Garnett... either because the league won't let them or the Celtics might not agree.
Isn't it also reasonable for the Clippers or any other team to need approval of their owner? After all, he's the guy footing the bill. Confusion in the Clipper front office? Aren't the Clippers allowed a breath to sort things out? Or are the Celtics getting a little desperate?
Turner in the Times again:
As of late Thursday, the Clippers were willing to continue negotiating with the Celtics for Rivers even if L.A. can't get Garnett, said NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The executives said the Clippers might now offer Boston just a second-round pick for the rights to Rivers, instead of a first-round pick.
And Shelburne and Stein give us a little further clue as to what is the Clippers mindset:
Because of Thursday's complications, and Game 7 of the NBA Finals, sources said it would be unlikely for anything to be resolved Thursday night... In fact, the Clippers were determined to be "patient" before pushing ahead in new talks, knowing that at least two of the three candidates they interviewed -- Brian Shaw, Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins -- likely will be available for as long as it takes to resolve the situation with Rivers.
In other words, the Clips aren't panicking. Which is as it should be. Though it sounds like the Celtics are. They have a very expensive lame duck coach, a star player who's bag is packed and ready to get on a plane, another decision to make in a week regarding Paul Pierce and ten million dollars, and a rebuilding process which might take many, many years. Sure they're panicking, the league threw them a curveball and they don't quite know what to do.
Of course the Clippers can't hang around too long. Chris Paul obviously wants (or wanted) Doc Rivers... but one assumes he also wanted Kevin Garnett. The Clips would really like to lock down Paul... so we can expect the situation to resolve itself fairly quickly. But the Clippers have to swallow the idea that the league office may NEVER approve a deal sending Garnett to LA... and the Celtics could also nix a subsequent deal. But is it at all fair to say the Clippers got cold feet?
I guess the only advice is to "stay tuned".