The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers have been going back and forth recently about a prospective deal that would send Celtics big man Kevin Garnett and head coach Doc Rivers to L.A., and the latest buzz adds to the captivating situation.
Who would get the better end of the possible Clippers-Celtics deal?
Now that the NBA Finals have come to a close, the focus on the offseason will only sharpen, and this could be the first big splash made in the Association—possibly even before the draft or free agency this summer.
The league office has questions over the deal, which implies that Garnett and Rivers are part of a package.
That wouldn't be approved, so the Clippers have proposed two separate transactions: a one-for-one swap by shipping center DeAndre Jordan to Boston for Garnett, then surrendering two first-round draft picks to land Rivers as head coach.
On Friday, Los Angeles NBA writer Mark Heisler provided some interesting tidbits as to what's been going on—the Celtics were set to hold a press conference, but then cancelled without any apparent reason:
Deal that won't die or, at least hasn't yet: #Celtics just cancelled press conference w/o explanation. Clipper source says they'll up offer.— Mark Heisler (@MarkHeisler) June 21, 2013
Then, it appeared as though the Clippers were ready to fork over a first-round choice two years down the road, though it would be partially protected:
If the perception that Clippers superstar point guard Chris Paul is pulling the strings behind the scene and doing all he can to make this deal happen, it was strengthened even more recently.
NBC's Ric Bucher breaks down on Sulia the type of pull that CP3 apparently has in L.A. as a player:
The issues between CP3 and Blake Griffin weren't that they dislike each other, but rather that they were vying for control of the team. It went something like this, according to a source: Paul would be very exact about how the Clippers should play and if there was any divergence, he'd make his unhappiness about it painfully clear. Griffin, in turn, would see the team kowtowing to Paul and question -- especially if Paul's plan de-emphasized Griffin -- why the team was capitulating to Paul.
Paul will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and has all the leverage in the world on the Clippers not only to be paid handsomely, but also to be appeased well enough to stay.
It's clear that Paul is serious about winning a championship, though his alleged control over the front office's decisions and fiercely competitive nature may not be good for the franchise in the long run.
Griffin has every right to question some of the antics Paul has reportedly been displaying behind closed doors, or at least, out of the public eye.
Owner Donald Sterling did all but admit that Paul's influence caused the team to decide to fire Vinny Del Negro as head coach (h/t Los Angeles Times). That was in spite of the fact that Del Negro coached the Clips to their best record in history at 56-26 in the regular season.
Clippers TV play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler spent the evening with Paul recently, and didn't reveal much aside from the fact that the All-Star is enamored with Rivers:
Just spent better part of the evening w/Cris Paul and his wife Jada. I can only tell you that he is a Big fan of Doc Rivers.— Ralph Lawler (@Ohmeomy) June 20, 2013
So it seems Paul has a monopoly on not only the goings-on on the court, but also the basketball operations off it. It is a star's league, but it's almost as though Paul is some kind of dictator in L.A.
Desire to win is one thing—threatening to collapse the infrastructure of a historically dire franchise at its very foundation is another. Paul is skating on thin ice in that regard with his alleged hard-line, demanding stance this offseason.