Stephen A. Smith
Basketball analyst and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, and he was unsure about whether or not a deal involving Celtics coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers would get done.
With Rivers still under contract for three more years, there are potentially a lot of moving pieces in such a trade. But fortunately for the Celtics, president Danny Ainge has a ton of leverage in the negotiations.
Still, Smith pegged the chances of a trade actually going through at just 50 percent.
“Ultimately, all the cards are being held by Danny Ainge,” Smith said. “It’s a 50-50 shot either a deal gets done or Doc Rivers stays in Boston. I don’t think Doc Rivers will sit out for the year, then do television and all this other stuff. I think he’s going to stay and coach in Boston this year, or he’ll move on because Danny Ainge will see an opportunity to get young and to get a box-office attraction to some degree, if not Blake Griffin, then some quality young guys you can build around.
“Clearly, you have to go in that direction [getting younger]. If you’re Danny Ainge, it’s going to be a deal you want to make because you’re an older squad now, and it’s time to move in a different direction. Doc is the one hot commodity that he has. [Kevin Garnett] is 37. Paul Pierce is an aging 35. They’re not what they used to be, even though they can still contribute to a championship situation.
“They’re not the guys to build around anymore, and if you’re Danny Ainge you know this better than anybody. As a result, it will behoove him to get a deal done. And Doc Rivers is the one piece you have that’s an ace. You have to maximize it.”
Smith went as far to say that if Rivers indeed ends up in Los Angeles, and the Clippers hang on to Griffin and Chris Paul while getting at least one of Garnett and Pierce, they are a favorite in the Western Conference and have a chance to win it all.
What is up in the air is what the Celtics would get back in return.
Boston has to ask for Griffin before discussing center DeAndre Jordan or point guard Eric Bledsoe, Smith said. Obtaining Bledsoe would give Ainge the freedom to part with Rajon Rando, should he want to.
No matter who ends up shipping east in the potential trade, one thing is certain: The Celtics would get something good.
“It’s not going to be one of those deals where the Clippers end up getting everything they want and Boston does not,” Smith said. “Danny Ainge is too smart for that, too wise for that. That’s not going to happen. The likelihood is that he gets what he wants, at least to some strong degree. Otherwise nothing is going to happen.”
There is some worry that talks — and rumors — have already gone too far, that if everything falls through the situation is such that Rivers wouldn’t be able to coach in Boston in 2013-14, even if he has a change of heart.
Smith said that is simply not the case.
“They have an understanding with one another,” Smith said of Ainge and Rivers. “There’s nothing that’s going on that either of them doesn’t know about or haven’t talked about with one another. They’re fine.”
To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.