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June 26, 2013

Doc at the helm

LOS ANGELES — After weeks of negotiations and intrigue, Doc Rivers has officially left the Boston Celtics for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Rivers will be introduced as the Clippers’ new coach and senior vice president of basketball operations at a news conference Wednesday at their Playa Vista training complex, capping a lengthy process by completing a rare trade involving a championship-winning coach.

The Clippers and Celtics finalized the move Tuesday when the NBA approved the deal. Boston will get an unprotected first-round pick in 2015 from the Clippers for Rivers, who went 416-305 and won the 2008 NBA title during nine seasons with the Celtics.

Boston’s front office mostly had warm words for Rivers after he took off for his exciting new team on the West Coast, apparently not eager to stick around for the aging Celtics’ rebuilding process.

“We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers coaching,” said Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “He did an unbelievable job. He has a long history of great success with us in the last nine years, and we wish him the best in Los Angeles.”

Rivers is likely to be the NBA’s highest-paid coach with the deal, and he’ll also have a prominent role in the Clippers’ front office with his additional title.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling will expect impressive results for such an investment, but his long-suffering franchise has never been in better shape on the court — providing Los Angeles re-signs Chris Paul, who is eligible for a five-year contract worth nearly $108 million in July. Paul is widely expected to stick with the Clippers, and Rivers’ arrival might cinch the deal.

With Boston likely to spend the next few years revamping, Rivers seized the chance to take over one of the league’s most compelling young teams. He was eagerly pursued by the Clippers, who are coming off the best regular season in franchise history with a roster built around Blake Griffin and Paul.

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