Celtics, Clippers posturing in Doc Rivers saga

Boston tries to dump extra contract on LA

League sources say the odds of Doc Rivers returning to the Celtics are dropping with each day.
League sources say the odds of Doc Rivers returning to the Celtics are dropping with each day.

The standoff continues.

Though the Celtics and Clippers made progress on a potential blockbuster deal that would send coach Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles and bring Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to Boston, the teams again reached an impasse Monday, league sources told the Globe.

The primary issue heading into the day was Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe: The Celtics wanted him, along with draft picks; the Clippers didn’t want to give him up.


However, the teams apparently agreed that Bledsoe, whom the Clippers hope to use in a trade later this summer, won’t be part of the deal, and they moved on to more pressing matters.

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The new issue holding up the complicated deal, league sources said, is whether the Clippers will also accept the multiyear contracts of either Jason Terry or Courtney Lee, a move that would help give the Celtics some financial relief.

That’s no small matter, but in the grand scheme, it’s a hurdle that can be cleared.

More than anything, though, each side is claiming it holds more bargaining power than the other, a common ploy.

“They’re just posturing; they know if they don’t do this, they’re going to look bad,” a league source said of one team’s stance, a point true of both teams.


A source close to Rivers told the Globe that Rivers, who is under contract for the next three years with the Celtics, is still grappling with the decision, especially as the trade gets more complicated and negotiations more contentious.

It would be hard to see Rivers returning to the Celtics. League sources say Rivers doesn’t want to coach the Celtics because they’ll be a rebuilding team and he’d rather coach a talent-laden roster with a legitimate chance to win a title, such as the Clippers.

But the Celtics don’t want to give the impression they’d allow Rivers to escape the non-compete clause in his contract without receiving a bevy of compensation in return, which is the aggressive stance they’ve taken, according to league sources.

The Clippers have reportedly called the Celtics’ initial asking price of Jordan, Bledsoe, and two draft picks (one in the first round) “far-fetched.”

They have also reportedly stated they’re fine with walking away from the deal and hiring Lionel Hollins or Brian Shaw, whom they have interviewed.


However, a league source said All-Star point guard Chris Paul, the most powerful Clipper of all, favors Rivers as the team’s next coach, and it’s widely known the team’s top priority is appeasing Paul so he’ll re-sign with them this summer.

Paul becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.

For now, each team is engaged in a staring contest, waiting for the other to blink.

“As in most major negotiations,” a league source said, “there’s often an impasse, or two or three, then a deal happens.”

In the end, a league source said he believed there was a 60 percent chance Rivers was coaching the Clippers next season; a 30 percent chance Rivers retired from coaching and returned to the broadcast booth; and a 10 percent chance that Rivers returned to coach the Celtics for his 10th season.

Though, the source added, that figure of 10 percent that Rivers returns to coach the Celtics is dwindling to single digits by the day.

Even still, league sources tell the Globe that the NBA’s front office has insisted these teams wrap up their deal because it is overshadowing the NBA Finals.

Some finality that could drastically change the destiny of both these franchises is expected by mid-week.

Globe staff writer Gary Washburn contributed to this report Baxter Holmes can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes.