Just when it appeared the the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers may have been once again working toward a deal, David Stern swooped in to extinguish the flames. Trade talks had reportedly heated up as of Thursday morning, thanks in part to Chris Paul’s desire to play for Doc Rivers. However, it appears the potential deal would violate the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.
Basically, the issue is that the public knows the two teams are trying to swap Rivers and Kevin Garnett for DeAndre Jordan and draft picks. Per current NBA rules, coaches cannot be “traded” for players. The only way the Clippers could land Rivers is if the Celtics released him from his current contract, which has three years and $21 million remaining on it, and LA signed him. That transaction cannot be part of a bigger trade, nor can any aspect of the trade include any contingencies having to do with it.
From a legal standpoint, the Celtics could have traded Garnett to the Clippers for Jordan and draft picks. Then, they could have released Rivers and allowed him to sign with LA. That would have in theory made everyone happy, except for Stern. Now that the media has exposed the deal and everyone knows it is contingent upon Rivers going west, the commissioner said the league is unlikely to allow it.
“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’s Colin Cowherd on Thursday.
In a separate interview, Stephen A. Smith asked Stern why the league could not just view the trade and Rivers’ release as two separate deals.
“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,” Stern replied.
From the sound of it, there is nothing that can be done at this point. The Celtics and Clippers can’t go back in time and convince the NBA that allowing Rivers to sign with the Clippers has nothing to do with the Garnett-Jordan trade, because we all know that’s not the case. Now we see why players are inclined to make comments like this about Stern and the NBA.Google+