Discussions over a blockbuster deal to send Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett to the Los Angeles Clippers – with Doc Rivers as coach – reached an impasse on Saturday afternoon, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Clippers are willing to part with center DeAndre Jordan and a first-round draft pick for Garnett – and the rights to hire Rivers – but so far have refused to include Boston's desire for point guard Eric Bledsoe into the package, sources said.
Since the February trade deadline, Bledsoe had been a part of talks for Garnett, and more recently, Rivers, but that changed Saturday morning, league sources said. The Clippers were no longer willing to part with Bledsoe, sources told Y! Sports.
If the deal completely falls apart, Celtics management and Rivers are still committed to his return to Boston as coach.
Boston general manager Danny Ainge has requested Bledsoe and a second first-round pick, but all involved believe that Bledsoe's inclusion into the package would get a deal done.
Celtics and Clippers management – as well as Rivers – want a finality to these discussions in short order, sources involved told Yahoo! Sports. No one involved has shown an appetite for these talks to linger without resolution.
Garnett, 37, will waive his no-trade clause to leave Boston only if Rivers joins him as coach, sources said. Rivers still needed to talk to Clippers star Chris Paul about his free-agency plans this summer, sources told Yahoo! Sports. It is believed that the arrival of Rivers and Garnett would be the final moves needed to assure Paul to re-signing with the Clippers in July.
Rivers has three years and $21 million left on his Celtics contract, but doesn't want to stay in Boston unless the Celtics are willing to bring back Garnett and Paul Pierce to avoid rebuilding for another year, sources said. Boston will not let Rivers coach or work anywhere in the NBA for the duration of his contract without compensation, sources said.
The Clippers have shown a willingness to give Rivers a contract extension that's competitive with his Boston salary, sources said. Throughout this awkward process, Boston has told Rivers that it still wants him to return as coach should the Clippers discussions never reach fruition, sources said.
While the Clippers had the wistful thought of trying to arrange a sign-and-trade to acquire Dwight Howard for Bledsoe and Blake Griffin, the Lakers have flatly rejected the idea, sources said.
"They'll never do it," one source with direct knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports.
So far, the Lakers have rejected every possible sign-and-trade scenario for Howard, sources said. The possibility of trading him within the Staples Center is probably the least palatable scenario of all should they be forced to lose him for nothing in July and finally do agree to a sign-and-trade possibility.
Bledsoe can be a restricted free agent in 2014 and it will be difficult to pay him a market value with Paul on the roster.
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