Doc Rivers has agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, ending weeks of dysfunctional and muddled negotiations, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
After the Clippers re-started talks on Sunday with the offer of a first-round draft pick to the Celtics for compensation, talks rapidly progressed and Los Angeles agreed to send Boston its unprotected 2015 first-round selection.
Clippers free-agent guard Chris Paul kept lobbying franchise management to pursue Rivers throughout the past week. Paul hasn't formally committed to signing a five-year maximum contract in July, but Rivers is taking the job with full knowledge that he'll be coaching Paul, sources said.
The possibility of Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett reuniting with Rivers in Los Angeles is a remote possibility, largely because of the NBA's unwillingness to approve a trade that suspiciously looks like an extension of the coaching transaction.
As the Celtics-Clippers discussions dragged on, Garnett – who had to waive his no-trade clause – had become increasingly less interested in making the move to the Clippers, sources said.
Garnett has two years, $24.4 million left on his Celtics deal, but there's a growing belief that he'll play one more season before retiring and joining his old coach, Flip Saunders, with a ceremonial role in Minnesota Timberwolves ownership, league sources told Y! Sports.
"The opportunity will be there for him," one source said, "but there's nothing decided yet."
The Celtics have to make a decision before June 30 if they want to buy out the remaining $15 million on Paul Pierce's contract for $5 million, but Boston is finding that scenario less and less likely, sources told Yahoo! Sports. There's been enough trade interest from contending teams who still see the 35-year-old Pierce as a plausible third offensive option, sources said.
The Denver Nuggets called the Celtics on Saturday – the second time in two weeks – to inquire about trying to hire Rivers as coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Nuggets had been willing to give the Celtics a first-round pick as compensation and were prepared to make Rivers a competitive offer with the $7 million per season he made in Boston, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Before the Clippers reached out to the Celtics on Sunday morning, Rivers had informed Boston general manager Danny Ainge that he planned to return for the 2013-14 season as coach, a source told Y! Sports. Rivers had been balking at returning to the Celtics out of disillusionment over having to preside over a rebuilding process. In the end, though, Boston was glad to shed the $21 million owed to Rivers over the next three years, clearing the way for them to hire a less-expensive coach with the organization no longer in championship contention mode.
Without the Clippers' change of heart on offering a first-round pick, there had been a strong possibility that Rivers would've discussed the Nuggets job with Denver officials. The Clippers' offer of a 2015 first-round pick changed everything. Clearly, Rivers' telling the Clippers he no longer had interest in the job – and the Celtics setting a Friday deadline for a deal – were negotiating postures to leverage the Clippers back with a better offer.
Not only had Rivers told the Clippers on Friday that he was no longer interested in the job, he had told his defensive coordinator, Mike Longabardi, that he was completely done discussing the Clippers position and would not accept it, sources said. Soon, Longabardi finalized a deal to become the top assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns. He now won't be able to join Rivers' staff with the Clippers.
It is likely that Rivers will bring Boston assistant coaches Tyronn Lue and Kevin Eastman, sources said. Another assistant, Jay Larranaga, is well-regarded by Rivers and the front office, but he's under contract for one more year with Boston. It's unclear how Larranaga fits into Rivers' Clippers staff.
Former Clippers head coach Alvin Gentry had discussed joining Rivers' staff with the Celtics, and will be a candidate for his Los Angeles staff, sources said. Gentry also is candidate for the Memphis Grizzlies' head-coaching position and to join Mike D'Antoni's staff with the Los Angeles Lakers.