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Doc Rivers high on Clippers' list, but Celtics remain roadblock

Boston's Danny Ainge turned down the Clippers' request to talk with the Celtics coach, say NBA executives. Portland's Nate McMillan may enter Clippers' picture too.

June 15, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Doc Rivers' name has popped up as a potential head coaching candidate for the Clippers job, with both parties expressing their interest.
Doc Rivers' name has popped up as a potential head coaching candidate… (C.J. Gunther / EPA )

The Clippers' coaching carousel took many turns this week, as the team interviewed three candidates for their opening, while a fourth coach — Doc Rivers — popped up high on their wish list, said several NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Clippers began by interviewing Indiana associate head coach Brian Shaw on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Clippers' front office interviewed former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, followed by former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who was in Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday.

But the real buzz in NBA circles involved the Clippers and Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, who both expressed some interest in each other, according to the executives.

If Rivers were to become available, the Clippers would make him their No. 1 choice to become their head coach, the executives said.

The Clippers asked for permission this week to speak with Rivers, but Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, "turned them down," one executive said.

The notion that the Clippers could somehow get Rivers and satisfy the high demands from Boston has become a "farfetched" possibility that L.A. "doesn't see happening," said the executives.

However, speculation about Rivers becoming the next Clippers coach to replace Vinny Del Negro still isn't a dead issue, the NBA executives said late Friday.

Meanwhile, the Clippers were still trying to set up a face-to-face interview with former Portland Trail Blazers Coach Nate McMillan, a meeting that could take place next week, one executive said.

Another celebrated coach looking for work is former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. However, one executive said the Clippers "never expressed tremendous interest" in Karl. He is expected to be interviewed for the Memphis job next week.

At some point, Clippers owner Donald Sterling has to make the final decision on whom to hire.

Shaw, Scott and Hollins all appeared to have been impressive during their interviews with the Clippers' front office.

But the Clippers probably will have competition for Shaw and Hollins.

Shaw, who lost out on the Brooklyn Nets' head-coaching job that went to Jason Kidd, interviewed for the Denver Nuggets' head-coaching opening on Thursday and Friday.

And Hollins flew from L.A. Friday afternoon to Denver for his interview with the Nuggets on Saturday.

As for Rivers, his would be the most complex negotiation of all.

When asked whether he could see Rivers joining the Clippers, one NBA executive said:

"I don't think so. It is very complicated. They have a guy under contract. Maybe they'd let him out if this happened or that happened. It's all very speculative."

It's complicated for the Clippers because Rivers has three years left on his contract with Boston worth $21 million. And Rivers hasn't publicly said he wants to leave Boston and join the Clippers.

Then there is the kind of compensation Ainge would seek from the Clippers for Rivers.

Two executives said the first thing Ainge would want is young players such as Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe, and an expiring contract such as Caron Butler's $8-million deal.

Then Ainge would want to trade a veteran player like 37-year-old Kevin Garnett (he would have to waive his no-trade clause) and add guards Courtney Lee and Jason Terry in the deal to the Clippers.

Ainge also would want two first-round draft picks from the Clippers as well.

Even if all of that happened, Rivers, who makes $7 million a season, would then have to negotiate a contract with Sterling, who isn't known to be a big spender on his coaches.

"Doc can't play center and point guard," one executive said. "That's a lot. But you never know how this might unfold."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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