The Doc Dilemma, Part II

Say goodbye, Boston

Say goodbye, Boston

According to multiple ESPN and LATimes reports, the Celtics-Clippers deal has fallen through and trade talks will not resume.

Does anyone out there believe this? I absolutely believe that legitimate, trustworthy sources confirmed this, but I’d be shocked if this actually happened. Until another coach is hired in LA, this isn’t dead. That said, Byron Scott is interviewing today and Brian Shaw tomorrow, while Lionel Hollins has already interviewed for the job.

If the Clippers do hire another coach, then this thing is dead. Sort of. For anyone thinking this deal will happen without Doc, you’re probably wrong. Yes, the Celtics almost traded KG to the Clippers for Jordan, Bledsoe and a first at the deadline. But we never knew if KG would waive his no-trade clause then – it didn’t get that far. If Doc isn’t included now, KG probably won’t waive it. He wants to play for Doc, and Doc alone as well as finishing his career next to Pierce. He’s very loyal to his most trusted brothers in combat.

So what to do now that this relationship has been soiled and hurt between Rivers/KG/Pierce and the team/media/fans? Get over yourselves, everyone. There’s nothing to fix. No one is going to take offense at Doc wanting to win or KG wanting to stay with the best coach he’s ever had/the coach that got him an NBA Title. It’s part of the business and, as much as my 12-year-old self hates to admit it, this is a business. Everyone is going to be fine. This isn’t Dwight or Carmelo or Deron Williams. It’s different, entirely. I could try to explain it, but if you need it explained my rambling isn’t going to help you understand.

So, where do we go from here? Doc still doesn’t really want to coach here anymore. It’s nothing personal, and it’s not really about “here” as in Boston as in “here” the situation the Celtics are in with their roster and cap space (or rather lack thereof). It wouldn’t surprise me to see Doc take a year off; he’s been trying to since they lost to the Lakers in 2010. Assuming this happens, what does the rest of the roster do?

For starters, Kevin Garnett will retire. No questions asked. It’s why this trade with the Clippers was such a good thing – the Celtics were getting something (valuable somethings, in my opinion) for Garnett and something for Rivers (which almost never happens when a coach leaves – it takes a real stand up guy and a ballsy GM to do it), more than they would get if both just walked away.

If the team is lucky, they could swing a deal with Garnett where he gets traded to another team who sends us an expiring contract (1 year remaining, probably big money somewhere from $5M-$12M) they don’t want to pay along with a draft pick, and then KG retires. KG’s “new” team wouldn’t have to pay him anything, they would be able to free some money from their cap they don’t want, and in exchange for the Celtics helping them out, they send along a draft pick.

Of course, Doc could always find another team ready to win that needs a coach, the only problem is that the Clippers were really the perfect fit. They need an extra veteran piece, a better coach, and have young superstar talent in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (presuming he resigns) to compliment KG, likely Pierce, and the best coach in the NBA.

And finally, what happens to Paul Pierce if KG and Doc leave town? The Truth won’t be afraid to speak his mind. Remember Paul Pierce circa 2006-2007? The guy who had mysterious injuries, wouldn’t play, would come back and be amazing to showcase his talent for a trade suitor or free agent team, and then spend every other waking moment complaining? That’s what we’re going to have, albeit a much less talented, actually hurt, possibly a little more mature version of him. And, frankly, a bit more deserving of his requests this time around. Ainge will buy Pierce out for $5M and let him go on his merry way to play for whomever he likes, likely following Garnett and/or Rivers if either is still in the league. Either way, Paul doesn’t want to lose anymore. He’d have to accept a much lesser role anywhere else, but he’d be a good fit on just about any contending team.

Could the whole gang come back together? Of course. But what good will that do them? They aren’t going to win, they aren’t going to be good, and they’re wasting years of their lives and careers. Don’t forget Ainge will go insane trying to get rid of them for something. The man never stops, and at this point, he shouldn’t.

So is this deal dead? Maybe. I’m not convinced. But either way, this is the sloppy, public beginning of the end of an era in Boston.

Readers can follow Pat on Twitter at @PatBradleyUSCHO

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Globe Report: Clippers readying Doc, KG intro Presser

Who wouldn't be happy about going to Sunset Boulevard?

Who wouldn’t be happy about going to Sunset Boulevard?

 

The Celtics have been on quite the roller coaster ride. What was supposed to be a three year window lasted 5, 6 if you include this season without Ray Allen. Since year 4, trades and trade rumors have been flying everywhere. Kendrick Perkins got shipped out as the beginning of the reboot for the future, probably at the expense of a title. More recently, the Celtics almost got swept by the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, ended up losing in 6, and their roster fell apart in hypotheticals.

For two months, we’ve swirled around the thoughts of Stephen A. Smith’s report that Doc Rivers would be “traded” to the Clippers in a deal with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. That rumor then died until late last week when it appeared Doc Rivers “felt it was time for a change,” once again reported by Smith. Then talks heated up, with the Celtics demanding DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe plus draft picks for Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett. The Clippers refused to give up Bledsoe, the Celtics have rebutted, and now it appears the deal is imminent:

Clippers receive: Coach Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry OR Courtney Lee
Celtics receive: DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, 2013 first round draft pick, future first round draft pick.

Don’t be fooled by the absence of Paul Pierce’s name. It’s a smart move by the Clippers – right now, he’s not included in the trade. Why pay him $15Million? The Celtics will buy out Pierce at $5M, then let him walk and sign in LA with Doc, KG, Blake Griffin and, ideally for LA, Chris Paul.

Frankly, I don’t think Chris Paul will be there. It’s probably going to be this year’s Celtics minus young potential (Bradley, Green, Rondo, etc.) plus Blake Griffin. Is that any good? I guess we’ll find out.

The good news – Butler’s deal is expiring and he is only due $8M this season. Jordan is worth $22M, approx. $11M per year for this season and next. He’s a project, but could be a top 3 center in this league with the right help. Unfortunately that help – Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett – are what he is being traded for. There will be some highlight reel dunks with Rondo – if he’s still around, more on that later – but that’s about it.

The best part of this trade is the cap room (sort of – we’re subtracting $27M this season but adding $19, leaving us with a net gain of $8M to spend next season) and the draft picks. Let’s hope we strike gold.

 

The KG Era Is Over

KG head down

The following was my immediate reaction to hearing the initial Stephen A. Smith report nearly two months ago that said Doc, Pierce and KG were going to LA for Griffin, Bledsoe, Jordan, Butler, etc.  As I was writing it, the rumors fell through, I saved the piece to drafts and put it aside. Now that the rumors have come alive, died, and come roaring back a third time over the past 48 hours, I revisited it. It was written in the nostalgic midst of the Celtics’ loss to the Knicks, but I think it has some valuable insight. I figured I may as well publish it to throw some thoughts out there.

 

So, I’ve needed a few days to recoup from the Celtics loss. It was tough, on several fronts. I really believed they would come back and punk those losers in New York into an early golf trip. They also looked very, VERY mortal and…old. They have for a while, but it was almost upsetting to watch. Like an old, beloved dog that just cant walk anymore, but you’re holding on as long as you can before putting him down. It sucked, it was valiantly for a brief moment in the third with their 20-0 run, but it was a microcosm of this season and the future of this team should we keep them around.

The immediate reaction is to blow it up. Before the 20-0 run, I was nearly sick to my stomach and proclaimed that they needed to trade everybody (obviously in frustration, but I wasn’t far off). Minutes later, I was in near tears as the Celtics I knew and loved came storming back, flooded with memories of a 24-point comeback in the 2008 Finals vs. the Lakers.

Ultimately, the Celtics fell short. Without a move or something potentially drastic, they may fall shorter in 2014. Is it worth it to miss the playoffs for a lottery pick in a potentially deep Draft class… it’s a toss up, but I’m leaning towards no for two reasons that don’t need much explanation: A) a healthy Rondo year in his prime is not one to waste. B) a healthy Garnett year in whatever he has left is not one to waste.

Do I think, given one more piece and total health the Celtics could make another run? Absolutely. Look at 2012 – these Celtics aren’t much different. Bradley was injured, and they needed one more big to move out on Bosh (or guard the paint as well as Garnett – a tall task [pun slightly intended]) when he returned and they win that series and maybe beat OKC.

However, at this stage in the game, the C’s don’t have the cap room for that “one more piece” unless they draft an immediate impact player in the lottery (a la LeBron James in 2003), and their health is FAR from a guarantee for one game, let alone 82 of them preceding 2 months of playoffs.

So, before Stephen A. Smith made a mockery of himself (we’ll see who’s laughing if he’s right), My initial plan for the Celtics was to maneuver some cap room, trade some mix of Jordan Crawford, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee for big men and/or draft picks, and make a run at some free agents.

Specifically, I think Kendrick Perkins will be amnestied in OKC, and Tony Allen won’t be resigned in Memphis, so if  Jeff Green, Rondo and Bradley can shoulder the offensive load, bringing in these two old friends at a discounted rate may be enough to push these transitioning Celtics over the hump. Wishful thinking, sure, but if there’s one thing the Garnett-era C’s have taught me, it’s that defense and grit win games (with even an average offense), nothing else.

However, now that the Blake Griffin Era is hypothetically upon us, why not examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of this potential trade?

Here’s an overview of the trade: Paul Pierce (1 year, $15.3M remaining, $5 buyout option) and Kevin Garnett (2 years, $12M/year remaining) to Los Angeles. Doc Rivers reportedly signs on to coach the Clippers, replacing the forgettable Vinny del Negro. In return, the Celtics receive Blake Griffin (5 years, approx. $100M  remaining), Eric Bledsoe (1 year, $3.7M remaining), Caron Butler (1 year, $8M remaining), and DeAndre Jordan (2 years, approx. $22M remaining).

That’s what I wrote back then. I was going to go into what I thought of that trade, but the parameters have changed at this point. We won’t actually know what happens until the trade goes through, but I’ll work on breaking it down when it’s done.