The initial price set by the Celtics to allow Doc Rivers to escape his contract to coach the Los Angeles Clippers and also, quite possibly, Kevin Garnett, was rejected by the Clippers, a league source told the Globe Saturday night.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge asked for center DeAndre Jordan, guard Eric Bledsoe, and two draft picks. The Clippers considered it too steep and the teams appeared to reach a stalemate as talks continued into the night.
However, while the Celtics would like to retain Rivers, the team’s focus shifted to the possibility of moving the coach to gain valuable assets in return.
“Danny [Ainge] would still like Doc to coach and would still like to make that happen,” the source said, “but there’s more focus right now on looking at other options.”
The source said the only other option on the table right now would result in Rivers leaving to become coach of the Clippers.
A corresponding trade would send the 37-year-old Garnett to LA. Garnett has a no-trade clause and balked at the idea of a swap to the Clippers in February, but it is believed he would waive that clause if it meant reuniting with Rivers, with whom Garnett is extremely close.
Rivers has a non-compete clause in the five-year extension he signed in 2011, which means he can’t coach another NBA team during that deal unless the Celtics grant permission.
League sources say the Celtics won’t let Rivers out of his contract unless they receive a “large” compensation. A league source said he would be “shocked” if the Celtics accepted anything less than Bledsoe, Jordan and two draft picks, one of them likely being in the first round.
A likely hurdle, and perhaps the largest one, is Bledsoe.
When the teams were discussing that proposed deal in February, a league source said the Clippers didn’t want to part with Bledsoe.
It is believed the Clippers want to keep Bledsoe, who is considered one of the league’s top backup point guards, because they view him as valuable insurance if Chris Paul signs elsewhere.
Paul, an All-Star point guard and the unquestioned leader of the Clippers, is an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Enticing Paul to stay is considered one of the Clippers’ top priorities, especially important because reports say he and Lakers center Dwight Howard are interested in teaming up, perhaps on another team.
However, a league source told the Globe if Rivers becomes coach of the Clippers, “I guarantee that Chris Paul re-signs” with the team.
“I guarantee it,” the source reiterated.
However, there are key concerns on both sides. One league source said Clippers’ management believes such a deal is too complex to pull off.
“I know [Doc] is concerned that Danny [Ainge] just wants to get everything and anything and the Clippers are going to get to the point where they say, ‘Screw it,’ ” a league source said.
League executives told the Los Angeles Times the Celtics’ asking price was too steep, with one reportedly calling it “far-fetched.”
“The Clippers are not going to budge,” an executive told The Times Saturday. “The Clippers don’t want to feel as if they are being taken advantage of. Boston wants to hurry up the deal because they know Doc wants to come to the Clippers.”
Although the Clippers have already interviewed former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana associate head coach Brian Shaw, league sources said the Clippers consider Rivers their No. 1 choice.
Rivers is interested in coaching the Clippers, a team he played for in 1991-92, because they are a contender and not a rebuilding team.
There is speculation Rivers would face a pay cut if he joins the Clippers.
It’s considered doubtful he’d make the $7 million per year he’s making with the Celtics, which is the richest for a coach in the NBA, but one league source said Clippers owner Donald Sterling might come close to that.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes.