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Clippers announce Doc Rivers as new head coach

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers argues a call in the second half against the New York Knicks during Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Confere
Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers argues a call in the second half against the New York Knicks during Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Confere

(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Clippers will formally introduce Doc Rivers as their head coach on Wednesday after the Boston Celtics agreed to release him from his contract in exchange for a future draft pick, the two teams said on Tuesday.

Rivers joins the Clippers after nine NBA seasons in Boston where he amassed a record of 416-305 in the regular season and 59-47 in the postseason, including an NBA championship in 2008.

The 51-year-old, one of only four active NBA coaches to win an NBA title, takes over a Clippers team that finished fourth in the 15-team Western Conference last season but lost in the opening round of the playoffs.

Rivers replaces Vinny Del Negro, who was not given a new contract following the team's early playoff exit, and will also serve as the team's senior vice president of basketball operations.

The Clippers sent a first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft to the Celtics as compensation for releasing Rivers from his contract, which had three years and $21 million remaining. A replacement for Rivers was not named.

Prior to joining the Celtics, Rivers spent just over four seasons as head coach of the Orlando Magic, earning NBA Coach of the Year Honors in his first season when he led a team that was expected to finish last to a playoff berth in 2000.

Tuesday's announcement ended weeks of back-and-forth over a potential deal and allows Rivers to leave a franchise which has been gradually dismantled in recent seasons, and now needs to be rebuilt by his successor.

'BIG THREE'

Under Rivers, the Celtics enjoyed a long run of success after they assembled a 'Big Three' when they acquired center Kevin Garnett and shooting guard Ray Allen to join forward Paul Pierce.

However, Allen left Boston to join the NBA champion Miami Heat last season and the Celtics squad showed signs of age with a rebuilding period looming in the immediate future.

During the initial Rivers talks between Boston and Los Angeles, Garnett's name was also mentioned in a possible swap.

The Celtics finished third in the Atlantic Division last season with a 41-40 mark after winning the crown five years in a row and lost to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Clippers won the Pacific Division with a 56-26 record but were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Last month, three weeks after their early exit from the playoffs, the Clippers announced they would not be renewing the contract of Del Negro whose deal was expiring.

The arrival of Rivers in Los Angeles should help ensure that the Clippers will re-sign six-times All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Paul, who has previously expressed his desire to work under Rivers, is expected to be offered a five-year contract worth $107.3 million.

Rivers played one season for the Clippers in 1991-92 during his 13-year NBA career as a point guard.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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