Doc Rivers is coming back until he says he isn't. The trade sending him to the Clippers is dead until it isn't.
The deal might be off, but it won't officially be dead until the Clippers move on with another coaching hire. And if that happens it still isn't clear what happens with Doc Rivers. He still has the option to leave for the broadcasting booth (though I think he'd be leaving some money on the table if he did that). The Celtics have maintained all along that they are happy to have him come back. I'm not sure how much of that is genuine and how much of it is bargaining power with his contract.
You see, they still hold his rights and any team that wants to hire him is going to have to pony up at least a late first round pick to get him. In fact, as it turns out, the most important thing that has happened is that a FOR SALE sign has been hung on the doors at Waltham and now the whole world knows the going price for half of our roster.
"This whole situation with the Clippers brought to life some of the more expendable pieces in the eyes of Danny Ainge, at least, on the Celtics current roster," Blakely said. "You can count on the Celtics continue to look to make changes, BIG changes, in their near future that, for now at least, include Doc Rivers as their head coach."
Want a year of Kevin Garnett? As long as you can convince him to waive his no-trade clause, he could be yours for fairly cheap. Want a package deal of KG and Doc? Fine, give us a player and either some picks or take our salary dump players. Stay tuned and you might see various members of our team on Craigslist with OBO (or best offer) beside their names.
Also, get ready for some serious Paul Pierce rumors in the days leading up to the draft. They don't want to let him go for nothing and if they can get a pick and a trade exception or expiring contract for him, they'll pull the trigger. I still find it very hard to believe that they'll simply cut him for the cap savings, but I guess I've been surprised in the past.
At this point, the thing that would surprise me the most is another "run it back" year. I can't fathom Doc returning to the Celtics after this. I don't think Kevin Garnett is going to simply be happy without Rivers so I think he would consider waiving his no trade clause if the deal is to a team of his liking (Houston?). Or perhaps he'll just decide he's had enough of this and hang them up for good.
Oddly enough, I could see Pierce returning next year (even if the rest of the roster burns down around him). Everyone assumes they'll take the cap savings but I'm not so sure. If they can't get a good deal for him, he's still a guy you can sell to your fanbase and maybe even dangle in trade offers in February. And if you never get anything for him, at least he retires a Celtic and you have cap savings for next summer.
Regardless, you have to think of this in terms of Danny's rebuilding-on-the-fly strategy of the past. They never really set out intending to "tank" the last time. They kept trying to build competitive teams while acquiring and developing young talent along the way. Things kind of fizzled and bottomed out the year that Pierce got hurt, so they gave into the temptation to tank (which didn't turn out the way they planned but worked out anyway - those deals don't go down without having the #5 pick).
Look to see the Celtics continue to build assets rain or shine. Next year might just be a bridge year where we aren't contending but guys like Green, Sullinger, Bradley, and others are getting a longer look in the rotation. They could then be building blocks for the future or valuable trade pieces to swing for the fences again.
Of course all of this assumes that Danny Ainge is still the guy that the owners want to have running the team. Another thing to think about is how much the owners want to invest in Danny now that he's not a package deal with Doc anymore. He got us a Championship once, so that's a lot of leverage, but his resume since then is open to criticisms.
Clearly there's a lot of questions to answer in the next few days and weeks and months. Draft day is always busy with trades and the Celtics could still make a move then. Don't touch that dial. There's plenty more to come.