Doc Rivers said Tuesday that rumors of a proposed deal to send Kevin Garnett to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe were "silly." He also said they were essentially fabricated by the media. From ESPN.com:
"All from [the media]," the Celtics' coach said of trade rumors. "None from us. Really. I would like to say that. Sometimes I like [the media], sometimes, some of the stuff that happens is just silly. It really is. When I wake up in the morning and I hear a trade rumor that I haven't heard in my office, that's silly, and that's what happens."
Rivers continued: "I heard one report -- I honestly did -- that me, [Los Angeles Clippers guard] Chauncey [Billups], Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] had dinner. And I was like, 'I wish I would have known about it. That would have been terrific, because I would have made them pay and I could have had a free dinner.'
"But it's just silly what goes on. And I don't think it's honestly [the Boston media]. I think someone can sit behind a computer and write something. The problem is, now you guys have to actually report it, which you shouldn't do. But you do, and it becomes an issue."
via Boston Celtics' Doc Rivers shoots down trade rumors as 'silly' -- ESPN Boston.
So there's the news. Doc Rivers denies trade talks, calls rumors "silly."
Now here's the reality.
1. There are things that are made up on the Internet. But trade rumors are generally not considered to be such, from certain sources. This isn't to say that the two teams had a deal on the table. That wasn't what was reported. There was a conversation, which happens all the time in the NBA. Let's say two assistant GMs have a call, an idea is floated but the person suggesting it wouldn't take it to his boss, and the person on the other end wouldn't take it to his boss. And that's that. But the conversation did occur, because teams are trying to judge value. In this case: What's Kevin Garnett worth to the Celtics?"
2. The reasons for an established reporter to lie about a conversation like that are massively overwhelmed by the reasons not to. Credibility does matter, even in the Internet age.
3. The reasons for Doc Rivers to say they're proposterous, on the other hand, are as plentiful as the Midwestern soil. You want everyone thinking you don't want to make a deal. You want fans thinking you won't make a deal so they keep buying tickets. You want players thinking you won't make a deal so they can play with a clear head, and you want other teams thinking you won't make a deal because it increases your leverage. And it's entirely possible that to Rivers' knowledge they aren't true! There is every reason for Rivers to say that the rumors are not true and no value in saying they are. There's also value in Danny Ainge simply not relating the conversation to Rivers for this exact reason.
4. Let's take a look at what KG himself said on Tuesday. Emphasis mine:
"Well, Danny made it very, very obvious since Day 1 when he brought Ray and myself here to be aligned with Paul that he was going to do whatever is best for this organization," Garnett said. "He's always made that apparent, so I've always understood that. I bleed green, I die green. That's what it is. But it is a business and when that crosses the path, I'll deal with it. But trades are part of this league. Every year you're going to hear certain things. If I were you all, I wouldn't read too much into it."
So, he's professing his love for the city, the franchise, the fans, while stating that trades are just a part of the business.
There is no mention, none, that he has a no-trade clause there, which he does. Why is that? If Garnett were 100 percent against being traded, then why would he not simply say, "It's not up to them and I'm not leaving?" Wouldn't that end it right there?
That's not to say that Garnett wants to leave. It's pretty apparent he doesn't. But he knows that things change in this league, and he's going to leave himself open to whatever he needs to do. And if Paul Pierce goes, which he may have to if the right offer crosses Ainge's desk, Garnett will be open. This is the same guy who reportedly told LeBron to watch out for his career and do what he needed to after the 2010 series. This guy understands how this works.
5. Before Ainge and Rivers' comments, there were a flurry of denials in media outlets both in LA and Boston following Sunday's report. Why would everyone comment on background unilaterally about a random trade rumor, the kind that happens all the time? It's not because the rumor was necessarily true, but because this is part of the playbook.
Does this mean I think the Celtics will trade either one? No. There's little market or incentive to, as I've written about before. But my point is that Doc Rivers calling these reports silly is just as much a tactic as another team leaking the same about Boston. This is all a game. It's on you, the reader, to see through the costumes and trappings to get to what's actually going on.
Just for fun, here are some things from 2007:
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who chatted with Kevin Garnett at Sunday's Lynx game at Target Center, asked if his $20 million star will be back with the team next season: "That's our assumption. He hasn't said anything to me (about a trade) and I haven't said anything to him."
The proposed trade that would have sent Kevin Garnett to Boston, agreed to in principle by ex-teammates Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge, was taken off the table Thursday after Garnett got word to the Celtics that he doesn't want to play for them.
Garnett, according to sources close to the situation, is hoping for a trade to the Phoenix Suns if he has to leave the only team he has ever played for.
"The Boston trade isn't happening," Garnett's agent, Andy Miller, told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan. "If a trade were to happen, that's not a destination that we're interested in pursuing."
Huh. Funny how that worked out.