Multiple outlets, including Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald and the Clippers' flagship radio station KFWB, are reporting that the Clippers and Celtics will finalize a trade sending Austin Rivers to play for his father Doc Rivers some time today. No one is reporting any details however, so other than the degree of certainty that this is happening (which was already pretty high, at least for me) nothing has really changed.
Celts will send Austin Rivers to Clippers, but have to wait to clear roster space for two expiring contracts.— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) January 14, 2015
The Clippers will have to send back something in the trade for several reasons. For one thing, because of the hard cap they will have to shed some salary just to fit Austin onto their roster under the cap. And of course there is the simple matter of salary matching which has to happen on all trades for teams over the cap. The Clippers have to send out approximately as much salary as they are getting back -- in this case, about $2.4M on Rivers' deal.
The Celtics will only want expiring deals back, so the combination of the amount and the duration limits the permutations of trades that are possible, though there are still a few. Basically, the way this works is that the Clippers lose two of the following minimum salary players in this trade: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ekpe Udoh, Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis. Based on playing time, it won't be Davis, who has a role on the current team. Based on role, it almost certainly will include CDR, given that the team is signing Dahntay Jones to shore up the small forward position. My money has always been on the trade being CDR and Udoh. Since Rivers' deal is also expiring, the Clippers will have to include SOMETHING else to make it worth Boston's time. Danny Ainge isn't in this simply to set the new record for trades in a week. That something will probably be a future second round pick, though the Clippers will try to get away with sending cash.
[UPDATE: As Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog points out in the comments below, I've oversimplified it all here. Bulpett and others have spoken of two roster spots, but the trade math still doesn't work even with two minimum players going out for Rivers coming in. A third team may have to get involved, and it's all just a bit more complex. As it happens, everyone is backing off the "It's happening today" talk and pointing to Thursday at this point, to which I now say "duh". Even Thursday seems a bit ambitious -- this is not a very simple transaction. Steve]
When this happens, and when Austin Rivers first steps onto the court for the Clippers, he will make NBA history as the first NBA player to appear in a game coached by his father. A few fathers and sons have gone against each other in the NBA -- Doc and Austin of course, along with former Clipper head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. and his son Mike Jr., George and Coby Karl and Butch and Jan Van Breda Kolff. None however have been on the same team. Technically the Karls were together in Denver for the end of the 2011 season -- however, Coby never actually made it onto the court, and George was undergoing cancer treatment at the time so that assistant coach Adrian Dantley was actually coaching the team at that time.
Is it a good acquisition? Is it a good idea? All of that remains to be seen. The idea of taking a chance on a former lottery pick is not a bad one for a team like the Clippers trying to find a few extra pieces -- a change of environment can sometimes work wonders for young players. But whether Austin JUST needs a new environment to thrive and whether his father can handle the inherent conflict of interest are big, unanswered questions.