After weeks of negotiations and intrigue, Doc Rivers has officially left the Boston Celtics for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Rivers will be introduced as the Clippers’ new coach and senior vice president of basketball operations at a news conference at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday at their Playa Vista training complex, capping a lengthy process by completing a rare trade involving a championship-winning coach.
Rivers spoke with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan, discussing his departure from the Celtics.
“It was just time,” Rivers answered. “I really don’t think it would be fair to get into all of that right now. I made a decision to talk with all of the Boston media following my press conference with the Clippers (on Wednesday) and I will honor that.
“I’ll explain it to everyone then. But to say I was dying to get out of Boston, dying to leave the Celtics, is just wrong. That’s not how it was. That’s not how I felt.”
Boston’s front office mostly had warm words for Rivers after he took off for his exciting new team on the West Coast, apparently not eager to stick around for the aging Celtics’ rebuilding process.
“We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers coaching,” said Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “He did an unbelievable job. He has a long history of great success with us in the last nine years, and we wish him the best in Los Angeles.”
The completion of the deal that sent Rivers to the Clippers from the Celtics was delayed Monday night because the longtime coach and his representatives were still negotiating the language of his contract, sources told MacMullan.
Sources confirmed on Sunday the Clippers will sign Rivers to the three-year, $21 million contract. The Celtics, who agreed to release Rivers from the remaining three years and $21 million left on his current deal, will receive a 2015 first-round draft pick as compensation in the deal.
The compensation agreement prohibits the two teams from trading players between now and the end of next season, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and multiple reports.
One source briefed on the specifics of the anti-trade language in Rivers’ deal told Stein that the contract provision even precludes multi-team trades featuring three or more teams in which players on the Celtics’ and Clippers’ rosters are swapped until after the coming season.
That would appear to create at least some wiggle room for Kevin Garnett and/or Paul Pierce to join the Clippers via free agency if either is bought out of his respective contract, but sources say the league — instead of assessing hypotheticals — would likely wait until such situations unfolded before addressing those possibilities.
Rivers coached the Celtics to an NBA championship in 2008 and an appearance in the Finals two years later. Boston reached the playoffs in each of the past six seasons under Rivers, winning five consecutive Atlantic Division titles from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
In Los Angeles, Rivers will replace Vinny Del Negro, who was not offered a new contract after the Clippers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after a 56-win regular season.