The second-greatest coach in Celtics’ history no longer wants to be here. It’s as simple as that. And, well, who could really blame him? Some have argued Doc is losing credibility, weaseling his way into a new contract and forcing his way out of Boston the same way Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony and other “superstar” losers (albeit very skilled players) have done. This time it’s a little different because he’s a coach.
On the bright side, he isn’t Jerry Sloan. He isn’t completely abandoning ship. Several sources have cited Doc as saying he wants to leave Boston in better condition than it is now, which, while it sounds crazy – isn’t. The Celtics are in a terrible position right now. Paul Pierce is a horse with a broken leg. Kevin Garnett is a ticking time bomb waiting for his body to betray him further than it already has. Jeff Green may never be a true #1 star, but will never get the chance with Pierce still on the team. Their prized young forward, Jared Sullinger, is coming off back surgery – the same ailment that caused him to drop so far down in the draft for the Celtics to pick up in the first place. If everyone stays, they have zero cap room to work with and unless they capture lightning in a bottle and stay completely healthy from October to June – a nearly impossible predicament – they won’t win a thing. They arent going anywhere, can’t make any moves, or if they do they’re blowing the team up and rebuilding. Rivers has already endured that process in Orlando, and then again in Boston for a few years before the KG/Big Three Era began. Now, he’s widely regarded as arguably the best coach in the NBA (With respect to Gregg Popovitch and Phil Jackson who isn’t technically still in the league but still feels a phone call away from his millionth comeback) and deserves to win. He loves Boston, it’s a second home for him, so he wants them to do well and be in a good position. He knows though that a good position means valuable chips for the rebuilding process, not stuck where they are now. He wants out, and he wants the C’s to get compensation for him and whomever he takes with him (a la Kevin Garnett).
CelticsLife.com hates this deal, calling it “a colossal failure” and stating that “trading Garnett and Doc for just DeAndre Jordan and draft picks in the 20s is not enough.”
I disagree. Garnett is only playing for Doc Rivers and a ring at this point, but mainly Doc. There likely isn’t another coach he would play for. The guy is making $12M/year for the next two seasons, has trade value, and could walk away and retire to leave you with nothing at any given moment. Any one of those reasons is enough to try and trade something for Garnett alone. All three make it stupid not to. The same goes for Rivers, who simply doesn’t have faith in this group anymore, doesn’t really want to be here anymore, doesn’t want to rebuild, and has almost walked away several times and could at any time to go into broadcasting – something he is terrific at – until the right job comes calling. He could screw us over, walking away and never thinking twice. He wants the best for the team, organization, and city, and deserves to be happy.
He’s not going to New York, he’s not going to Miami, and he’s not going to the Lakers. He just wants to win, wants to coach Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and needs a better supporting cast to do so. This trade is a win-win scenario for both teams.
That said, who could the Celtics turn to as his replacement? Let’s take a look at some of the bigger, sexy names on the market.
1.) Brian Shaw: No way this happens.
Shaw was drafted by the Celtics in 1988 and, long story short, had a huge contract dispute with them in the early 90s that is still cited in law school classes today. Boston Celtics v Brian Shaw is probably enough to keep him away, but winning three titles with the Lakers as a player, then scouting and coaching in their organization for nearly 10 years following his retirement is enough to prevent him from taking this job, especially during a rebuilding faze.
2.) Phil Jackson: Highly unlikely, but slimly possibly.
Seriously, Phil coaches Legends and he likes to win things in threes, or at least get there. He’s coached both Jordan three-peats, the first Lakers three-peat with Kobe and Shaq, then helped the Kobe/Pau teams go to three straight finals, winning the last two. He likes superstars. Is Rondo enough? Probably not. Could Dwight Howard or Chris Paul or BOTH be? Yes. And, don’t forget to cite your sources folks – this could happen in Boston. More on this later though.
3.) Lionel Hollins: Best option, could happen, but he deserves better.
I mean, really, anyone deserves better than Rondo, some role guys with potential, and the Boston media/fans to deal with. Then again, Doc basically did the same thing taking on a bratty Superstar (Pierce), a bunch of no ones with some potential (Al Jefferson became a B+ star of the group traded for KG, Kendrick Perkins was our “overrated” center on what could have been a three-peat of our own), and the Celtics lost 24 straight games the year before the KG trade. Now, Doc is the most respected guy in the league. So there’s that.
4.) Tom Thibideau: See – Farrell, John.
Okay, so this job was Thibs’ to lose if Doc had left a couple years ago, but he didn’t and Thibs took the Bulls job in Chicago. He’s got a superstar in Derrick Rose (if his head ever heals, let alone his ACL), a B+ guy with the grit and toughness and rebounding to make him an A in Joakim Noah (sort of a Dennis Rodman type), and a bunch of wiley veterans that continue to win in spite of everything thrown at them. Someone tell me why he would leave? A homecoming would be great news for Celtics fans, but it’s unlikely.
5.) Insert Van Gundy Brothers Here: Dear God, Help Us All.
Yup, that pretty much says it all.