Winners and Losers of Doc Rivers to Los Angeles Clippers Deal
The deal obviously has winners and losers on both sides of the trade that sent Rivers to Los Angeles in exchange for a 2015 first-round pick.
This is the first significant move to confirm that the Celtics organization is in a rebuilding mode; it also shows the Clippers remain set on winning a title.
Longtime Celtic players are left in the wake of Rivers’ departure, but might the swap be an indication of future transactions?
As for Clipper Nation and the current roster in Los Angeles, how will this deal impact the postseason success of the franchise?
Winner: Doc Rivers
Rivers succeeded in squeezing himself out of a losing situation with Boston and into arguably one of the league’s top jobs with the contending Clippers.
Rivers tallied a 416-305 record with Boston, including an NBA title in 2008, and was the team’s third-winningest coach. But following his team's first-round series loss to the New York Knicks this past postseason, Rivers' indecisiveness on whether he would return to the Celtics began immediately.
Rivers signed a five-year, $35 million extension in 2011 knowing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would eventually fade. However, as it became more likely that Pierce would not be signed to his $15.3 million team option, it became clearer that Rivers would be stuck in Boston's rebuilding process.
Not wanting to stick through losing seasons, Rivers was reportedly ready to walk away from his contract and perhaps move into broadcasting. If he were to turn around and coach next season, the Celtics would be due compensation.
As it turns out, Rivers got his wish.
Now, Rivers has found himself with a Clippers roster filled with contending talent (so long as superstar point guard Chris Paul re-signs with the team).
Loser: Rajon Rondo
When Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending injury at midseason, it would have been hard to predict that an era of NBA title contention would end for his team as well.
Rondo is signed through 2014-15 and, at 27 years old, will likely remain the Celtics centerpiece moving forward.
Without Rivers, that's not going to be as much fun.
One of the league’s elite point guards, Rondo will be paid a relatively economical $12.9 million in the final year of his deal. That allows the Celtics to remain flexible with the team’s salary structure while maintaining the presence of a superstar.
For that reason, Rondo will likely stay, as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are almost guaranteed to be gone.
Unfortunately for Rondo, he becomes the only remaining piece from the team’s 2008 championship. He’s a fiery competitor who’s gone through just one sub-.500 season, his rookie year in 2006-07.
Winner: Chris Paul
Chris Paul will become a free agent on July 1, and the superstar's frustration with the Clippers' coaching search has been well documented.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote as recently as Friday:
Free-agent star Chris Paul pushed the Clippers to hire Rivers as coach, but will have to settle for Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw or Byron Scott if he plans to re-sign with Los Angeles in July. Paul is unhappy with the fallout over the failed deal, sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday night.
Now that the Clippers have landed Rivers, Paul may feel more comfortable with L.A.'s chances. The Clippers finished as the No. 4 team in the West this past season, but fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Rivers has a .529 postseason winning percentage, compared to the .345 clip of former Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro.
Now that Rivers is on board, this is a win for the Clippers' hope to re-sign Paul. It's also a win for Paul, who can now sign a pricey deal with his current team and play under a coach in whom he apparently believes.
Losers: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce remain with Boston...at least for now.
It appeared that Garnett may be headed to the Clippers as part of a Doc Rivers trade, but the league nixed that idea. Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted that the NBA would block a deal that paired Rivers with a Garnett, as teams can't include players in a transaction that involves a coach.
Stein added that the NBA would see Garnett being dealt to the Clippers, even in a separate deal, as part of the Rivers trade and block that deal too. So it appears a move to send Garnett to the Clippers cannot occur, and that puts the veteran superstar in a waiting game.
Garnett, who has a no-trade clause, remains under contract with Boston at $12.4 million next season and another $12 million the following season. The superstar big man is 37 and averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds last season. To find a team willing to take on his salary without the leverage of pairing him with Rivers is not impossible, but it will be difficult.
Paul Pierce, at 35, averaged 18.6 points and 4.8 assists last season and is still seen as a valuable piece—though not for a rebuilding Celtics team. By losing Rivers, it assures that the transitioning Celtics will not bring Pierce back at his $15.3 million option.
That ends 15 consecutive years for Pierce in one uniform. Pierce could potentially join Rivers in Los Angeles as a free agent, but the league could also conceivably opt to block the move if desired.
Winner: Boston Celtics Fans
Nostalgia can play tricks, but the Celtic organization is better off for making this move.
Boston fans are going to struggle initially with the collapse and dismantling of the Big Three, as the loss of Doc Rivers is the first obvious sign that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will certainly be gone soon after.
That’s tough to swallow. The end of any era that featured as much success as what the Celtics have enjoyed in recent years is difficult.
But if Celtics fans look at it from the perspective that a roster overhaul was inevitable, they can soon understand that getting out of a high-priced coaching contract and receiving a future first-round pick is actually good news.
The Celtics are now in better position to return as a contender down the road. Though it may not seem like it now, that's a win for Celtic fans.