The Doc Rivers saga in Boston has finally come to an end after talks between the Celtics and Clippers were revived four times over the past week. Doc is the first domino to fall for the Cs in what looks to be one of the organization’s busiest offseasons in a long time.
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.
STAN VAN GUNDY
Since leaving Orlando, Van Gundy has kept busy, extending his knowledge to aspiring coaches north of the border. While he ended up getting the short end of the stick after Dwightmare Part I ensued, Van Gundy is a proven coach who is more than capable of handling difficult personalities. If Rajon Rondo is part of Boston’s long-term plan, Ainge will need to hire a coach that has experience dealing with headaches; It was reported that Rondo’s relationship with Doc is what drove Rivers out of Boston.
For what it’s worth, Van Gundy had success coaching current Celtic Courtney Lee, who started for an Orlando Magic team that went to the NBA Finals before falling into Doc Rivers’ doghouse for whatever reason this season. While Boston may be regretting signing Lee for $21 million over four years, an experienced coach like Van Gundy might be able to get the most out of the young guard. SVG also coached Celtics forward Brandon Bass for two years in Orlando.
Collins is another veteran coach who would be a viable option to fill the Celtics’ open head coaching position. Collins most recent success included a second-place finish in the NBA’s Coach of the Year voting and led the 76ers to a second round trip as the No. 8 seed, in which they pushed the 2012 Boston Celtics to seven games. Philadelphia looked to have a bright future after acquiring Andrew Bynum last summer but we all know how that turned out.
While Philadelphia basically gave away Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Mo Harkless, Collins cannot be held responsible for Bynum’s fragile body. With a healthy Bynum, Philadelphia would have certainly been a playoff team this past season with Collins at the helm. He’d be a great fit in Boston.
Sucks to be the NBA Coach of the Year, huh? The award carries a strange curse with its hardware (just ask Avery Johnson, Mike Brown, Byron Scott, Sam Mitchell, Mike D’Antoni, and yes, even Doc Rivers). Other than his recent early playoff exit (which had a large part to do with injuries), Karl has a proven track record, leading the Nuggets to an impressive 57-25 record this year without a bonafide superstar. Karl might not want to be part of a rebuilding process in Boston but if Ainge can convince him that the Celtics will be back at the top of the East sooner rather than later by putting athletic pieces around Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo, Karl could be intrigued in bringing his uptempo style to the TD Bank Garden.
Other Potential Candidates: Lawrence Frank, Jay Larranaga, Vinny Del Negro, Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry and yes, Danny Ainge.
all images via Basketball-Reference.com
Who should they hire?
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