Sources: Doc Rivers talks off again
The on-again, off-again talks between the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics -- this time regarding Boston coach Doc Rivers -- are off again as far as the Celtics are concerned, according to sources close to the situation.
According to a report in the Boston Herald, there is a slim chance talks between the teams could resume for a third time, but sources confirmed Friday to ESPN.com that both teams acknowledged that would not happen on Friday.
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"The Celtics' price (for Rivers) was a first-round pick, and the Clippers weren't willing to do that," a source told the Herald.
Rivers, under contract with the Celtics for three years and $21 million has returned to his home in Orlando for the weekend and is no longer interested in the Clippers job, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.
Rivers and Ainge had been scheduled to appear at a news conference Friday morning, but it was canceled almost as abruptly as it was announced and postponed 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.
In the wake of ESPN.com's Thursday reports about the NBA's concerns about the legitimacy of the original talks -- in which Rivers and forward Kevin Garnett would've been headed to Los Angeles in separate but parallel transactions -- the Clippers turned their focus from acquiring Rivers to first rolling the dice on acquiring Paul Pierce and Garnett later.
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To this point, sources said, the Clippers have been reluctant to offer anything more than a second-rounder as compensation for Rivers, whom they had earlier agreed to pay $35 million over five years.
Sources told ESPN.com that frustration is indeed high on all sides and has led to both teams backing away from negotiations once again. Yet sources say the Clippers believe talks will resume again, while many league observers continue to suggest the prospect of Rivers relocating cross country can't be completely ruled out until the Clippers hire someone other than Rivers. It's widely presumed that the hiring of Rivers would clinch the signature of star guard Chris Paul on a new deal when Paul becomes a free agent on July 1.
A source close to Rivers told ESPN that while the coach was frustrated with the situation, he still believed he would coach next season.
Whether that is with the Celtics -- who always have maintained publicly they would like him to stay -- or the Clippers remains to be seen. Rivers also has the option of returning to broadcasting.
The Clippers' stance has hardened in the past few days because, sources said, they are happy with the three candidates they formally interviewed for the job -- former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, Indiana associate head coach Brian Shaw and former Cleveland coach Byron Scott.
ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported that at least one of those candidates has been told that Clippers owner Donald Sterling will take the weekend to decide whether to hire one of those three candidates, or continue to pursue Rivers.
Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard was used in this report.