The Los Angeles Clippers' new strategy, in the wake of NBA commissioner David Stern's public comments Thursday expressing serious misgivings about the legitimacy of the proposed trade of Kevin Garnett and a corresponding transaction that would transport Celtics coach Doc Rivers from Boston to L.A. as a package deal, is to pursue Rivers first and roll the dice on acquiring Garnett and Paul Pierce later, sources told ESPN.
The Clippers' primary target now is Rivers, whom sources said team owner Donald Sterling already has signed off on paying upwards of $7 million a year for five years. Boston would require compensation for Rivers, who is still under contract for three years and $21 million with the Celtics.
The Clippers' new challenge, sources say, is thus twofold. They must offer enough in compensation to convince Boston to let Rivers go -- which would likely cement the signature of star guard Chris Paul on a new contract when he becomes a free agent -- and then hope any subsequent trade agreement they pursue for Garnett is ultimately approved by the league as a separate transaction not contingent on the hiring of Rivers.
League sources told ESPN.com Thursday morning that previous constructions of the proposed transactions – which would've sent Garnett to Los Angeles for DeAndre Jordan, and Rivers to the Clippers with two first-round picks as compensation for the coach, were unlikely to be approved by the league office.
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