After a week of extensive talks with the Clippers over the futures of coach Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics announced a Friday afternoon news conference with Rivers and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, only to abruptly postpone it until Monday.
It was not immediately clear why the news conference was called and then pushed back, but a league source indicated to ESPNBoston.com earlier this week that Ainge and Rivers would publicly address the future of the team once it became clear whether Rivers was staying or going.
The on-again, off-again talks between the Celtics and Clippers hit a snag Thursday, when NBA commissioner David Stern threw cold water on the idea that the Celtics were trying to deal both Rivers and forward Garnett to the Clippers in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks.
The Clippers then shifted their strategy to acquiring Rivers alone, sources told ESPN, and then hope any subsequent trade agreement they pursue for Garnett is ultimately approved by the league as a separate transaction not contingent on the hiring of Rivers.
A source close to Rivers said he's frustrated with the situation, but still thinks he wants to coach next season. A Clippers source, meanwhile, said the team doesn't believe the talks are off and expects them to continue through the weekend.
Sources told ESPN.com that league officials in recent days had communicated to both teams they had serious misgivings about the proposed transactions because Garnett and Rivers have been shopped by the Celtics as a package deal, which would violate NBA rules prohibiting contingencies or side deals in any trade.
"I would say that if we know that what the parties really wanted to do is one [trade] and they're going to break it into two for the purposes of trying to avoid the restrictions that the collective bargaining agreement places on it, we know how to deal with that as well," Stern told ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd on Thursday.
In a subsequent interview with ESPN New York's Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on 98.7 FM, when asked why the league wouldn't regard the two deals as separate, Stern said: "If you think those [deals], at this point having been all over the media for the last week, are separate transactions, when you get back from Miami, Stephen A., I have a bridge that I would very much enjoy selling to you."
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne and ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg was used in this report.