For the Los Angeles Clippers to bring Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to chase the franchise's first NBA championship, the price to complete a deal could come down to a willingness to include an additional first-round draft pick in the package to the Boston Celtics, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Monday night.
After pushing for the Clippers to take back long-term contracts, the Celtics relented and have shown willingness to complete the deal for DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks, sources said. The Clippers are willing to give the Celtics Jordan and one draft pick, but were resisting a second future pick, sources said.
The two teams are planning to talk again on Tuesday morning, and the fragile negotiations could climax over the draft pick compensation, sources said.
If the Clippers become the championship contenders that they expected this trade will make them, the additional draft pick would likely be near the end of the first round.
The financial investment in this deal for Los Angeles is unprecedented for the franchise, and it could be giving it 11th-hour pause. The Clippers must pay a $3.5 million trade kicker on Jordan's contract and finalize an agreement with Rivers on a five-year deal worth approximately $35 million, league sources said.
For the Clippers, Rivers and Garnett can solidify the franchise upon arrival: Bringing championship pedigree, performance and unifying forces for the locker room. Most of all, the Clippers believe they'll assure the franchise the re-signing of free-agent guard Chris Paul.
Boston has dropped its pursuit of guard Eric Bledsoe, but wants two draft picks as compensation for Rivers, sources said. Rivers has decided that he doesn't want to be a part of the Celtics' rebuilding process, and has requested that Boston work out a compensation package to allow him to go the Clippers. The Garnett-Jordan deal will simply be player for player, and the picks will serve as compensation for Boston to release Rivers of the three years and $21 million left on his contract.
The Clippers believe that the Celtics don't want to bring Rivers back after this public negotiation and his clear desire to leave, nor does L.A. believe Rivers will walk away from the remaining money on his deal to make far less in television, sources said.
Rivers is still torn over whether he would stay with Boston should this deal fall apart, sources said. Boston runs the risk of being unable to find another team that Garnett, 37, will waive his no-trade clause to join. He's willing to accept the deal to the Clippers for several reasons, including his fondness for playing for Rivers and a chance to play for a contender near his Malibu home.
Discussions over a blockbuster deal reached an impasse on Saturday when Celtics general manager Danny Ainge held firm that Bledsoe had to be a part of package that included Jordan and a first-round pick, but sources say that Boston has shown a willingness to find another asset to supplant Bledsoe and complete the complicated deal, sources said.
Boston had to move Courtney Lee (three years, $16.2 million left on his deal) or Jason Terry (two years, $10.6 million), for the expiring contracts of Caron Butler ($8 million) or Willie Green ($1.4 million), but the Clippers refused to take on the additional salary in any combination and the Celtics eventually moved back to the Jordan and two draft pick offer on Monday.
Rivers has coached the Celtics for nine seasons, winning an NBA championship and reaching the NBA Finals another time.
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