The oft-quashed Doc-Rivers-to-Clippers deal is finally done. What does this mean for two franchises heading in opposite directions? Let's discuss.
1. Fact or Fiction: The Clippers gave up too much for Doc Rivers.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Fiction. Parting with an unprotected first-round pick might seem like a lot to sacrifice for just a coach, but what if that move locks up Chris Paul? What if it allows Eric Bledsoe to shift to shooting guard (a la Avery Bradley) and play starter's minutes? What if it opens the door for Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett to come to Los Angeles? It's the ripple effect that makes it worth it.
Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: Fiction. Rivers is one of the top three coaches in the league and had three years left on his contract with the Celtics. If the Clippers are as good as they think they'll be with Rivers, it might end up being the last pick in the first round two years from now.
Brian Robb, CelticsHub: Fiction. Rivers was the premier option on the coaching market. With Doc also proving to be an appealing choice to Paul, giving up what will likely be a late-first-round pick to appease your superstar and increase the odds of him remaining in Los Angeles is a no-brainer in my book.
Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA: Fact. The Celtics got out of paying Rivers $21 million for the next three seasons and got a first-round pick out of the deal. The Clippers, in some ways, are doing Boston a favor in giving Rivers a graceful exit, a return of a future first-round pick and license to completely rebuild with or without Pierce and Garnett. But they kind of had to because of its impact on Paul's decision.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Fiction. These negotiations generated a ton of B.S. -- even by modern media standards -- but I do tend to think that Doc was leaving for TV if this deal didn't ultimately go down. So a first-round pick and a savings of $21 million in guaranteed coaching money in exchange for a guy who didn't want to be in Boston any more is a long, long way from exorbitant.
2. Fact or Fiction: The Celtics made the right call in letting Rivers go.
Foster: Fact. Privately flirting with the idea of a rebuild is one thing, but once it went public that Rivers and ownership both wouldn't mind parting ways, there was really no going back. With that in mind, shedding an expensive salary and securing an unprotected future first-round pick is about as good of a return on Doc as Boston could hope for.
Markazi: Fact. Rivers was gone either way. Not only do the Celtics get an unprotected first-round pick from the Clippers, but they don't have to pay $7 million to a coach who seemed lukewarm about coaching a rebuilding team.
Robb: Fact. Whether it was this season or next season, Rivers' exit from Boston was inevitable if he didn't have the stomach for an inevitable full-fledged rebuild. By securing a valuable first-round pick for his rights, I doubt Danny Ainge will have any second thoughts about the deal.
Shelburne: Fact. It was never going to be pretty when the Celtics started disassembling the team that has done so much to revitalize the franchise, but the time had come. Rivers was ready, and so was Ainge. The fact that they got an asset in return helps sell the move, much as Phoenix's trade of Steve Nash to the Lakers did last season.
Stein: Fact. Same principle as the first answer. Doc was as big a star in Boston as any of the players, but only if he's in the mood. If he no longer wants to be there, how effective is he going to be as a coach? Not very is the answer you're looking for.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Clippers are title contenders in 2013-14.
Foster: Fact. Playoff success has eluded the Clippers largely because of a nonexistent defensive system, and Rivers and his staff should be able to address that. Under Rivers, the Celtics have finished first or second in defensive efficiency in four of the past six seasons. Rivers proved he could run a great defense without Tom Thibodeau in 2011-12, but will he be able to do it without Garnett?
Markazi: Fact. The Clippers are one of the top five teams in the league on paper and now have one of the top five coaches in the league to coach that talent. They have cornerstones in Paul and Blake Griffin, and they were able to retain Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan and their first-round pick in this year's draft, which they can use to grow by keeping or dealing in the future.
Robb: Fiction. Rivers is a terrific coach, but he can't work miracles with a roster. Until the Clippers secure a defensive anchor, they aren't going to be able to hang in the postseason with the elite in a loaded Western Conference. Using Bledsoe as trade bait to find additional roster help won't be enough to put this crew over the top, either.
Shelburne: Fiction. The Clippers will tell you the same thing, too. They got a championship-caliber coach Sunday, but they still need to assemble a championship-caliber roster. The Clippers still need athleticism on the wings, better perimeter shooting and a big man who can help space the floor for Griffin. A guy like Arron Afflalo -- whom the Clippers and Orlando Magic have had preliminary discussions on -- could be a nice fit.
Stein: Fact. I say so because Doc's arrival means Paul is staying. Which means more upgrades are on the way because Bledsoe, at the very least, will be flipped into something good. Without even knowing what the upgrades are yet, I see the Clippers contending.
4. Fact or Fiction: Boston should trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Foster: Fact. Rebuilding shouldn't be done with half measures. The Celtics need to try to get assets for Pierce and Garnett before retirement becomes a real option. Parting with franchise legends for little in return is never fun, but cap flexibility and high draft picks have to take priority. It was a good run, but it's over now.
Markazi: Fact. The Celtics are officially in rebuild mode. Rivers was the first one to jump, and Garnett and Pierce should be allowed to follow. The league might prevent Garnett and Pierce from joining Rivers in Los Angeles, but whatever they do, they should be allowed to end their careers on a title contender.
Robb: Fact. Ainge always likes to get assets for any player on his roster. Moving both players (if Garnett allows it) is the smart play. I wouldn't rush it, though. Waiting until the trade deadline in order to receive ample value from a contender who needs help might be the best play for Ainge.
Shelburne: Fiction. Letting Rivers go signals Boston is headed for a rebuild, and by all means, if they can get good young players or draft picks in return for KG or Pierce, they should look at it. But timing is everything, and the best deals for Pierce and Garnett might not be made now. It's harder to trade Pierce after his contract is fully guaranteed at the end of the month, but there's also no huge rush with this year's mediocre draft class.
Stein: Fact. It's a zillion times tougher with KG, obviously, because of his no-trade clause, but the just-as-obvious play is trying to trade Pierce first before the end of the month so you can get something for him before the June 30 deadline to either buy Pierce out for $5 million or pick up his $15.3 million option for next season. I continue to say that the Celtics owe it to a player of Pierce's stature to work with him on his exit and try to trade him somewhere he wants to be. But if Boston pulls that off, KG almost certainly won't want to stick around, which makes the Celtics' transition to rebuilding/reloading easier.
5. Who should be the next head coach of the Celtics?
Foster: Kelvin Sampson. As an assistant to Celtics legend Kevin McHale in Houston, Sampson demonstrated the ability to embrace and advance an analytics-driven style of play. Boston now has the ability to be patient through the growing pains of a first-time NBA head coach, so taking a chance instead of hiring a retread would suit them.
Markazi: Brian Shaw. There will be some talk about Vinny Del Negro coaching his favorite team growing up or Lionel Hollins, whom Ainge is fond of, but Shaw would be the best fit. The former Celtic is a coach on the rise and will establish himself somewhere, and there's no better place for him to start than in Boston with the rebuilding Celtics, with whom expectations won't be out of control.
Robb: Short of Ainge making a surprise return to the bench, I wouldn't mind seeing Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale get a shot. His reputation as a strong communicator and developer of young players make him an ideal fit for a young, but talented, Celtics roster.
Shelburne: Why not Shaw? No less than Phil Jackson and Larry Bird endorsed him for the Clippers job. He has a track record of developing young talent in Indiana, which will be a huge part of the gig in Boston. Yes, Shaw has missed out on two jobs he was once the presumed front-runner for (Nets, Clippers) but he's still a rising star in the industry.
Stein: Shaw? Former Celtic who could reach Rajon Rondo? That's my best guess at the minute. It would be an easier question to answer if we knew that the Celtics are intent on keeping Rondo, but we don't know that.
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Arash Markazi and Ramona Shelburne cover the NBA for ESPNLosAngeles. D.J. Foster and Brian Robb contribute to the TrueHoop Network.
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