After leading the Celtics to two NBA Finals appearances and one NBA title in nine years, Rivers parted ways with Boston yesterday in a deal that sent him to the L.A. Clippers for an unprotected 2015 first-round pick. While there are certainly mixed emotions across the Celtic faithful, it was definitely time for the Celts to part ways with Rivers. President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge saw an opportunity to get compensation for his former head coach — he was an asset that many teams wanted to have.
Ainge did a great job in playing hardball with Donald Sterling until the end. He was not willing to budge unless Lob City offered him a first-round pick. Danny got his wish and will now channel his focus into finding a new leader for the Boston Celtics. Let’s take an in-depth look at the five best potential replacements for Doc Rivers in Boston.
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Hollins seems like a perfect fit in Boston because there’s a track record. They’ve liked Hollins in the past. Danny Ainge offered Lionel Hollins over half a million dollars to become a Celtics assistant coach back in 2004 and will likely go after him again now that the drama with Doc is over with. While he often butted heads with the Grizzlies management over their approach to the team’s future, Hollins proved to be a successful coach who possesses the ability to handle multiple player personalities. His “grit-n-grind” style of play would be a big hit in a blue-collar city such as Boston and Celtics fans would be even more excited if Hollins could entice defensive specialist Tony Allen to come back to the organization that drafted him.
After taking a hiatus from the league for one year, Nate McMillan would be a fantastic candidate, bringing a wealth of experience as both a coach and a player to Boston. In his last three full seasons as a head coach, McMillan went 152-94 in Portland during the regular season and since his departure, Rip City hasn’t made it to the playoffs. With McMillan in his late 40s, Danny Ainge would be hiring a coach who would be both part of the immediate rebuilding process and the long-term future.
Before Doc became a coach with a championship pedigree, he was nearly on his way out of Boston in 2007. Luckily for Rivers, Celtics management was able to move a few assets and turn them into Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and instantly, Doc went from being on the hot seat to being a Hall of Fame candidate as a coach. McMillan would be entering Boston with a successful track record as his career record is over .500.