The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to send former lottery pick Austin Rivers to the Celtics to help complete Boston's looming Jeff Green trade with Memphis, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Pelicans have been recruited to join the trade struck Friday by the Celtics and Grizzlies by sending Rivers to Boston and taking on guard Quincy Pondexter from the Grizzlies.
On Friday, as ESPN.com first reported, Boston and Memphis came to terms on the larger elements of a deal, with the Celtics agreeing to send Green to the Grizzlies for Tayshaun Prince's $7.7 million expiring contract and a future first-round pick.
The Grizzlies have long targeted Green -- and felt they were close to acquiring him last season as part of the trade that brought Courtney Lee to Memphis -- but needed a third team involved to shed more salary in this transaction to avoid luxury-tax complications. So they turned to the Pelicans, who have long been interested in Pondexter.
It remains to be seen whether the teams can push the deal through Saturday, as hoped, or if they'll have to wait until Monday, when the league office reopens.Sources say that the Pelicans will also send Russ Smith to Memphis as part of this transaction and receive a future second-round pick from the Grizzlies.
Rivers, the son of former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft.Sources say that Boston, though, does not intend to keep Rivers and will make him immediately available via trade.One source with knowledge of the Clippers' thinking told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne that L.A. --with Doc Rivers serving as coach and team president--believes the team will ultimately acquire his son.
When Doc Rivers was asked about Austin Rivers' involvement in the trade to Boston after the Clippers' 120-100 win over the Mavericks on Saturday, he jokingly said, "I guess I shouldn't have sold my condo."
The Rivers have stated in the past they would be against being on the same team, but when Doc was asked if he would be open to coaching Austin if the opportunity should present itself he sounded more open to the idea than ever before.
"I would," he said. "I think a year ago I probably wouldn't. I think I would for sure. I think this team could handle that. He's a downhill guard, which is something we need, so I certainly would [be open to coaching him]."
The Celtics were busy on the trade front before the season even started and have only ramped that up in recent weeks. On Friday, they shipped newly acquired center Brandan Wright to the Phoenix Suns, some three weeks after landing Wright from Dallas as part of the Rajon Rondo trade.
In full rebuild mode in the wake of last month's Rondo deal, Boston acquired another future first-round pick from Phoenix (via Minnesota) for Wright and also created a trade exception worth $5 million in the process by sending out Wright's $5 million contract while taking back no salary.
Green was scheduled to start for Boston at Indiana on Friday night but did not take the floor with his teammates and was ultimately pulled from the starting lineup and replaced by Jae Crowder. He did not join the team on the bench.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens wouldn't address the reports about Green's future after the loss to the Pacers, but did offer: "I can tell you [Green] won't be with us this weekend."
Prince, meanwhile, was informed of the looming trade by Memphis officials before the Grizzlies played in New Orleans on Friday but still wound up playing 25 minutes and scored six points in Memphis' 106-95 loss. Prince and Pondexter likewise both practiced Saturday with the Grizzlies, but the Celtics have no issue with Prince's activity because they're essentially taking him back for Green because he possesses an expiring contract.
"Obviously, everybody was getting wind of what was going on. ... I've been in this league for 13 years," Prince said. "Ever since I signed my first deal in Detroit, I was on the trading block every year. You know what I'm saying? Ever since I signed my deal after that first year, I was on the trading block every year, so it's part of the business. And if that's the case, then so be it."
ESPN.com reported earlier this week that the Grizzlies were aggressively pursuing Green or Miami Heat swingman Luol Deng in hopes of bolstering their wing rotation in the ever-competitive Western Conference. Green became the focus over the last 48 hours, sources said, when it became apparent that Miami was not yet ready to entertain offers for Deng, who is not even halfway through the first year of a two-year, $20 million contract.
Boston ultimately decided it was best to trade the 28-year-old now as they continue to stockpile future assets, since Green is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract in July and become a free agent, meaning he could potentially leave the Celtics without compensation.
The Celtics are now armed with what's likely to be six first-round selections and 14 total picks over the next two drafts. The picks should help Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge both in maneuvering around the draft board and allowing him to seek established talent via trades.
The Celtics are banking that their surplus of picks, multiple trade exceptions and developing young talent will help accelerate the rebuilding process that was stuck in neutral this season and prompted the change of direction that started with Rondo's departure last month.
ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg, Arash Markazi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Austin Rivers part of Jeff Green deal