Just when it appeared the Doc Rivers saga couldn't get any more absurd, the Boston Celtics called -- then quickly postponed -- a news conference Friday that was supposed to feature Rivers and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Twelve hours after watching old friend Ray Allen cozy up with the Larry O'Brien Trophy that Rivers so clearly desires to grasp again, it appeared we might finally get some definitiveness about Rivers' future amid the circus-like atmosphere that has surrounded the very public on-again, off-again negotiations between the Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers about his services.
Instead, we're left to wonder if it was just another negotiation ploy, the sort designed to jostle the Clippers brass that woke up early Friday morning to news of an unexplainable news conference on the opposite coast.
It's hard to believe that the Celtics and Rivers really had anything definitive to say about their futures. While both the team and Rivers have yearned for some closure to this head-shaking process -- the draft is six days away, and free agency opens soon after -- nothing about this process has suggested that Rivers suddenly desires to return to Boston and endure the less-than-enticing rebuilding process that looms.
The latest proclamation on Thursday that talks had died (for the third time in five days) left all sides involved in spin control -- and might have been the real impetus for Friday's scheduled conference -- yet nothing has done anything to stem the Benny Hill nature of these negotiations. Sources have indicated that Rivers has a long-term deal in place with Los Angeles should the two sides reach an agreement to free him from his Boston contract (or at least one the league would be willing to give its blessing to). You get the feeling that Rivers is still physically in Boston -- at least for three more days -- but his heart might already be out West.
Which brings us back to Allen, whose departure last summer left Rivers and Kevin Garnett, who could be crammed into Rivers' getaway bag, disappointed in their friend. As Boston's Big Three began to crumble with Allen's defection to Miami, there was resentment toward Allen for taking less money on the open market to chase a championship with the rival Heat.
It's a bit ironic then that, just 12 months later, we have Rivers and Garnett at least willing to jump from the "Ubuntu" ship for their chance at another title. And don't you wonder how Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics locker room feel about all this?
Before last season, Garnett said he didn't wish Allen any ill will but did say he "lost" his phone number and stonewalled his initial attempt to dap him up during the season opener in Miami. Rivers admitted to initially being upset and disappointed in Allen. Later, Rivers admitted that, as a free agent, Allen had the right to choose his next destination after things had soured in Boston.
Now Rivers, with three years and $21 million remaining on a deal he inked just two summers ago, seems to be using his uneasiness with presiding over a rebuilding process as justification to explore an attractive vacancy in Los Angeles.
A Boston fan base that demands loyalty from its sports heroes (even in an age when little exists) seems to be slowly turning on Rivers amid these zombie negotiations. Just when it appeared the two sides had finally come to an agreement, the league not-so-subtly reminded the teams that it wouldn't rubber stamp the deal because of the concurrent move that would exchange Garnett and DeAndre Jordan. (No NBA deal can be contingent upon another without being in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.)
Where do the two sides go from here? Well, shutting their mouths and hammering out an honest-to-goodness agreement -- one that reaches the league office before Twitter -- would be an ideal start.
In postponing Friday's news conference until Monday, the Celtics have seemingly given themselves a 72-hour window to fish or cut bait. If these negotiations weren't already 72 hours overcooked, it wouldn't be such a big deal.
But, hey, this process was already a circus. What's one more postponed news conference amid the attractions?
Can Rivers come back to Boston if these things actually crumble for good? Never say never, especially in these talks. But, boy, it would take more than a news conference to do all that explaining.