Clippers reject C's demands for Rivers

Clippers reject C's demands for Rivers
June 15, 2013, 9:15 pm
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The latest hold-up in the Doc Rivers' deal? His 3-year, $21 million contract to take over as Clippers coach.

(USA Today Sports Images)

SAN ANTONIO — Just when the Doc Rivers era in Boston seemed about to end, it apparently will live on - for now at least.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Clippers won't meet the Celtics' needs in a trade that would make the C's willing to free Rivers from his contract.

That means that, for now at least, Rivers is set to return as the Celtics head coach.

While this may be seen by some as good news for the Celtics, a league source told that Rivers may still consider taking a year off and do broadcast work.

"He's been telling you guys (media) that he was going to take some time off, a sabbatical, from coaching," the source said. "This might be as good a time as any."

Rivers signed a five-year, $35 million extension with the Celtics in 2011, the kind of deal that the C's felt would bring about some much-needed stability which we have seen, isn't the norm when it comes to NBA coaches.

So when Rivers alluded to the possibility of not coming back after the Celtics' first round exit to the New York Knicks last month, it caught both fans and the front office by surprise.

At the time, it was chalked up by most to Rivers being exhausted from a grueling, injury-riddled season in which the C's season ended in the first round - the earliest exit by the C's since the 2007-2008 season.

But as the offseason went on and rumors about him and the Clippers began to intensify, Rivers did nothing to squash such talk.

And by not saying anything on the matter, Rivers said more than enough.

Rivers knew the Celtics would be in rebuilding mode at some point in the near future.

But as it became more abundantly clear to him that the C's rebuilding efforts might be more extensive than he initially thought, the prospect of moving on to another team became a real possibility.

Former Celtics guard Ray Allen, whose decision to sign with the Heat and not return to Boston was an unpopular one in many circles, said he could envision Rivers coaching elsewhere.

"It's not like that's the only team he coached," said Allen, referring to Rivers' first NBA head coaching job which was in Orlando. "That's part of sports. Look around the league. You look at some of the best coaches to coach the game, they coached multiple places."

And Rivers' interest in the Clippers made the most sense on a number of levels.

They are seen by many as one of the league's up-and-coming teams, having won a franchise-record 57 games this past season before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

The early exit likely cost Vinny Del Negro his job.

The Clippers are in the market for a coach that brings more name recognition and instant credibility to the position - someone like Rivers.

And because of his popularity among players, the belief was that adding Rivers would only enhance the Clippers' chances of re-signing Chris Paul.

To top it off, Rivers going to the Clippers would more than likely be able to convince Garnett to waive his no-trade clause, and allow the Clippers to swing a deal that would reunite Garnett with the only coach he says he wants to play for.

But all that, for now at least, is a moot point.

The Clippers didn't want to include point guard Eric Bledsoe in a trade this past season when the C's had interest, and their stance hasn't changed.  

Instead, the Clippers were willing to part with DeAndre Jordan and a future first round pick.

However, the C's have been insistent that a deal has to include Bledsoe.

And while there's a sense that the latest development will be the end of the Rivers' saga, in a lot of ways it is just the beginning.

If he were to return to Boston, explaining all that has transpired this offseason won't be easy. And to try and put it in the past without giving it some context to fans and the media, will only make matters worst.

And if the Celtics were to struggle early on, it gives his critics - a clique that will only increase in numbers after this fiasco - more reason to believe that those losses and his summer fling with the Clippers are somehow connected.

Regardless, Doc Rivers is the Boston Celtics' head coach - for now at least.