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.
I really didn’t want to write about Doc today, but it’s unavoidable. The Celtics’ immediate future basically hinges on his decision to stay or go. Doc and Danny will be meeting today to discuss Rivers’ future with the team. From Chris Forsberg:
Are you in or are you out?
For six weeks, the Celtics have given Rivers his typical after-the-season space to detox and ponder his future. Rivers’ uneasiness about spearheading Boston’s roster overhaul that almost certainly lies ahead ultimately forced Ainge to explore a potential swap with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have shipped the coach and Kevin Garnett out west in exchange for a rebuilding acceleration package headlined by DeAndre Jordan and at least one first-round draft pick.
The deal to send Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to the Clippers supposedly hit a snag yesterday when LA refused to add another first-round pick to it’s package. Most fans, Celtics fans anyway, felt that the Clips were easily getting the better part of the deal. The Celtics are now basically back at square one as far as offseason plans. So just how awkward will today’s meeting be?
The meeting between Ainge and Rivers won’t be as awkward as some might think. The two have a tremendous working relationship and have been laboring together since Boston’s playoff exit by watching pre-draft workouts and strategizing for the offseason.
Ainge, so adamant last month that Rivers would return, has to be somewhat surprised by his coach’s desire to explore the Clippers’ coaching vacancy. Rivers inked a five-year, $35 million extension two summers ago and pledged to aid the roster overhaul when it came along, but something about that impending process is giving him more pause than seasons past.
So if Doc does come back, just how comfortable will he be after this mess. But more importantly, will he have the complete respect and trust of his players?
Publicly, Rivers will have no problem winning back a fan base left squeamish by the idea of losing its longstanding helmsman (only Red Auerbach has coached more games and for a longer duration than Rivers, who is a mere 11 regular-season wins behind Tommy Heinsohn for second-most in franchise history). Most will forgive and forget.
The question is whether the same can be said for some of the players in the Celtics’ locker room. Will some feel alienated by a coach who appeared ready to take his buddy Garnett and ditch the rest of the Ubuntu gang to chase a title out west? How can Rivers preach loyalty and team — two of the hallmarks he cited when he inked his long-term extension in 2011 — when he didn’t quite exhibit that himself by showing interest in the championship-chasing Clippers gig? Yet again, Rivers is so beloved by his players and such a powerful speaker that it will all likely blow over in time.
So the question ultimately lies with Rivers. After all this deliberation and a near change of coaching address, can he give 100 percent of himself to the task at hand? Can he get past whatever has left him on the fence for the 45 days since Boston’s playoff exit? If he simply can’t, his talk with Ainge will devolve to an exit strategy.
I have to agree with Forsberg that Doc is as beloved a guy as any sports hero here in Boston. I do think most fans can let this slide. But if he does come back, things will never be the same after this..
The rest of the links:
Herald: Deal In Doubt Doc Meets With Danny Is Doc Bailing On Sinking Ship | Globe: Pierce Forgotten Man In Trade Talks NBA.com: Bill Russell With Gametime Crew Metro West Daily News: With Clips Deal Dead Celtics Deal With Questions