Shortly after the Boston Celtics were eliminated from the 2013 NBA playoffs, ESPN sports personality Steven A. Smith stated on the network’s program First Take that his sources told him the Los Angeles Clippers wanted to work with the Celtics to potentially send Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and head coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers in exchange for forward Blake Griffin and other Clipper players. Smith’s proclamation was widely dismissed at the time by everyone in sports journalism. Furthermore, Celtics’ President of Operations Danny Ainge stated May 9th on WEEI’s Silk & Holley show that the rumor was “silly”.
However, fast forward to the middle of June and Smith’s proclamation doesn’t sound so silly anymore due to the lack of information coming from the Celtics regarding if Rivers wants to finish out his contract as head coach and their plans for Pierce and Garnett next season. Smith’s assertion has become the foundation of much speculation in sports media. Stories have begun to pop up daily on websites such as ESPN, Yahoo, Boston Herald, and the Boston Globe that the Clippers and Celtics are looking to do exactly what Smith stated they were attempting to do in May.
There are nevertheless two reasons that make the recent speculation difficult to believe. The first one is that unlike Smith’s assertion that Griffin is involved in the deal, recent articles on the web suggest the Clippers are not interested in including him. They instead focus on center DeAndre Jordan, guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler.
According to media reports the Celtics could have traded Pierce and/or Garnett to the Clippers for these players in February. Why would the Celtics now be interested in them? Exchanging Pierce and Garnett for Jordan, Bledsoe and Butler would not improve the Celtics next season or in the future. Nor would receiving late first round draft picks for Rivers.
Griffin’s inclusion in the package is the only way an exchange can work for the Celtics. He, Bledsoe and Butler would be fair value for Pierce, Garnett and Rivers. Particularly if the Celtics were to take Bledsoe, Celtics forward Brandon Bass and possibly another player and send them to the Atlanta Hawks in a sign and trade for forward Josh Smith.
Along with Griffin’s lack of involvement, the other piece of information that makes the speculation difficult to believe is that most articles’ sources acknowledge that if Rivers coaches next season his preference is to coach the Celtics, regardless of what happens with Pierce and Garnett. The articles’ sources give the impression that Rivers is not to eager to change his current work environment for an unknown situation.
All of this speculation regarding Pierce, Garnett and Rivers could be nothing more than NBA writers finding ways to pass time during the summer, or it could be substantive investigative reporting, but until Rivers and the Celtics speak about their future the speculation will only continue. And if the three of them end up with the Clippers, look for Smith to rightly tell everyone who will listen, I told you so.