By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES — If the Los Angeles Clippers get their wish, the only thing they won’t be getting from the Boston Celtics this summer is the parquet floor at the Garden and the 17 championship banners hanging from the rafters.
If their plan works, however, maybe they’ll be able to raise their very own banner at Staples Center next year.
The Clippers’ plan is to someway, somehow pry Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnettand Paul Pierce from the Celtics and hope that the trio, combined with Chris Pauland Blake Griffin, can get the Clippers their first NBA title. (Or at the very least, get them to their first Western Conference finals.)
There are two key things that need to take place for this to happen.
First, the Clippers must be fine with essentially mortgaging their future to make a run at a title for the next year or two with two players who will be 37 and 36, respectively, when next season begins.
Second, the Celtics must be fine with starting their rebuilding project early by blowing up the core of the team that won a title in 2008.
If those two things happen, the next step is figuring out how this mega-deal would shake out logistically, and for that there’s no one better to turn to than ESPN.com’s salary-cap guru Larry Coon.
There are two scenarios for the Clippers to complete this move, one is if they do it before July 1 and the other is if they do it after July 1.
Let’s start with before July 1, which matters under the new CBA. According to Coon, if a team has $0-$9.6 million outgoing, it can take back 150 percent. If it’s $9.6-$19.2 million it’s the outgoing plus $5 million. If it’s over $19.2 million, it’s 125 percent.
So if the Clippers wanted to trade for Garnett and Pierce, who make $28,356,610, in one big mega-trade before July 1, they would need to send out at least $22,605,288. Let’s start withDeAndre Jordan, who makes $10,532,977, and Caron Butler, who makes $8,000,000. Those two add up to $18,532,977. The Clippers would still need another $4,072,311 under this scenario, which would not be met even if they included Eric Bledsoe and Willie Green, who combine to make less than that. They could make it work if they included Jamal Crawford, but sources say Crawford would not be included in the deal.
That means the Clippers would go to the second option, which would be doing two separate trades. In this scenario, according to Coon, they get 150 percent or $5 million rather than just the 125 percent they get by acquiring them together. So they could trade Jordan and Bledsoe for Pierce and then Butler for Garnett. These two separate but parallel trades would work from a numbers standpoint.
If they wait until after July 1, they need to send out $22,133,656 if they wanted to trade for both together. Jordan and Butler add up to $18,986,550, so they’d need another $3,147,106. Bledsoe and Green would add up to enough.
Separately they’d need to send out $7,433,735 for Garnett, and Butler is still enough there, and they’d need to send out $10,155,556 for Pierce, and Jordan is enough but the Clippers would likely be forced to add Bledsoe as well.
Either way you cut it, the Clippers can certainly make a deal under the new CBA this summer that would bring Garnett and Pierce to Los Angeles for a package that would include Jordan, Butler, Bledsoe and possibly Green.
And now on to the not-so-mathematically-driven trade of Rivers to the Clippers.
Rivers still has three years and $21 million remaining on his contract but is eyeing an exit with a strong interest in coming to Los Angeles, where he played for the Clippers during the 1991-92 season.
Considering the Clippers would already be trading four players to the Celtics that started a combined 232 games last season, a future first- and second-round pick would probably be enough to allow Rivers to walk away from his deal. Besides the Celtics don’t need to pay a coach $7 million per season to watch over a rebuilding project, especially when Rivers has said that’s something he’s not interested in doing.
As crazy as it may be to think of Rivers, Pierce and Garnett in Los Angeles instead of Boston next season, the Clippers and Celtics could actually make it happen this summer.
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com