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League office concerned proposed Clippers, Celtics deal violates rules

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff  June 20, 2013 11:03 AM

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As always with trades in the NBA, a deal isn't done until the league office gives it its stamp of approval.

But the league office has raised serious concerns with the proposed blockbuster deal between the Clippers and Celtics that could keep it from being completed.

Specifically, the deal could violate league rules, namely that a coach cannot officially be traded and that a deal cannot involve any side deals or additional agreements.

"I would say, in the language of diplomacy, that the teams are aware that the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t authorize trades involving coaching contracts," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a radio interview.

"The only consideration that can be done here in player transactions is other players, draft picks and a very limited amount of cash. But coaches’ contracts don’t qualify as acceptable consideration in player transactions. The teams know that. It has been confirmed to them."

As the terms stand, the Celtics would make a player-for-player trade with 37-year-old Kevin Garnett heading to the Clippers for rising center DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers would also give the Celtics two first-round draft picks, and, in turn, the Celtics would release Doc Rivers from his contract and allow him to leave to coach the Clippers.

What the league office is looking into is definitive proof that the portions of the deal involving Rivers and Garnett are not, in fact, connected.

When asked in the radio interview about the possibility that the deal could be broken up into two separate transactions, Stern laughed.

"If you think those would now -- at this point, having been all over the media for week for the last week or so -- are separate transactions...I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I would very much enjoy selling to you," Stern said. "What the rules won’t allow, it can’t be gotten around by breaking it up into two transactions."

It would take some tweaking from each team, in some form or fashion, to appease the league office so that the deal ultimately is approved.

But as the Globe has reported before, there were initial concerns from both sides that this deal would ultimately be too complex to pull off. It appears that might be the case today.

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