Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Jackie MacMullan-“Doc Rivers Has Tough Road Ahead“
There has been no greater Boston sports love affair in recent years than the relationship between Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, the player who revived the championship culture for a franchise that was once steeped in titles but had lost its way before he bounded onto the scene.
As KG left the parquet Friday night following his team’s Game 6 loss to the New York Knicks, perhaps for the final time, he embraced Rivers and told him, “I love you, man.”
We don’t know if KG is retiring, returning or looking to move on to a reduced role with a contender. He holds all the cards regarding his future, including a no-trade clause that enables him to determine his landing spot.
No team in the NBA’s future hinges so much on the decision of one player this offseason than the Celtics. We do know that as KG stated on Friday night, his final decision will be based on what happens with Paul Pierce. But Pierce’s time in Boston could be done according to Greg Dickerson and a few others. This is an odd time for Celtics fans. We’re used to watching our team in the playoffs in early May. Instead, we’re wondering what the future holds for our beloved franchise and two of it’s key players. But it could be worse-think of what Doc must be going through.
We do know this: The day Garnett leaves Boston, Rivers’ job becomes infinitely more difficult.
Not only does KG demand excellence of himself and his teammates, and not only does he put a premium on defense the way the great Bill Russell once did, and not only was he the most selfless superstar this market has ever seen, but his total trust in Rivers provided the coach with ultimate credibility. KG has had Doc’s back since he came to town, which resonated in a locker room full of divergent — and sometimes conflicting — personalities.
Of course, Doc has done a fine job of building his résumé all on his own by requiring professionalism and accountability from his players without ever embarrassing them, a trait he and old pal Terry Francona both mastered.
Not only has Doc endeared himself to the members of his own roster, but he has managed to maintain a congenial relationship with opposing players as well, a handy benefit when it comes time to troll for free agents.
Doc is a proven players’ coach, a bona fide draw in a market that has never been able to attract free agents. Jason Terry, in fact, said Rivers was the primary reason he chose Boston over other suitors.
And going forward, Rivers being the head coach of the Celtics will certainly be a huge factor in trying to lure free agents to the team. Doc has stated that once the Big 3 era is over, he is willing to be a part of the rebuilding process. I personally believe Doc will be back next year. With some very nice pieces in Rondo, Green and Sullinger coupled with Doc’s undying loyality, I definitely see him on the sidelines of TD Garden next season.
Rivers is a man of his word, and he promised Ainge he would help with the rebuilding process. Whether he completes all three of the years remaining on his deal remains to be seen, but it’s nearly impossible to fathom him walking away at this juncture.
Pressed by a small group of reporters late Friday night, Rivers said his future is not tied to the decisions of Pierce or KG.
Mine is a completely separate thing,” Rivers said. “I’m coming back until I say I’m not.”
Translated: Expect to see Rivers on the sideline next season.
It is unclear who will be there with him. He is in the difficult position of knowing he needs to move on from his beloved veterans but must demonstrate the proper amount of respect and loyalty toward them.
It may behoove the Celtics to hang on to Pierce and Garnett next season until the trade deadline, which is when demand will peak and teams intent on making a splash in the postseason should be willing to give up a little more. If so, it will be imperative for Rivers to limit their playing time to the 20- to 25-minute range.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Roster Reset | Globe: Futures Of Pierce, Garnett Big Questions | Herald: Stars Hardly In Alignment Terry Talks Up Return Bradley Focuses On Offseason Jeff Green Dances Around Lead Role For Pierce, Ball In Ainge’s Court MWDN: Celtics Post-Deadline Playoff Thoughts