There is more uncertainty surrounding the Boston Celtics heading into this offseason since Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen first came together as the original "Big Three." Letting head coach Doc Rivers go elsewhere would mark the end of an era, and the Celtics simply can't allow that to happen.
Report: Doc Rivers, Phil Jackson on Nets' Radar to Fill Head Coaching Vacancy wp.me/p2AlCJ-Jwj— NESN (@NESN) May 7, 2013
With Jackson reportedly turning down the Nets' overtures, Rivers may very well be Brooklyn's preferred choice. According to Derrel Johnson of SNYNets.com, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes that Nets general manager Billy King will request permission to speak with Rivers.
Expect the Boston Celtics to receive a call for permission to talk to Doc Rivers… Expect Brian Shaw of the Indiana Pacers to get a call, and he also mentioned Larry Brown. He then returned to the man who will lead the search. 'Billy King will scan the globe. I’ve known him for over 20 years. He’s not going sit idly by.'
After acquiring Joe Johnson this past offseason and re-signing Deron Williams to a long-term deal, there is no question that the Nets intend to be championship contenders in the near future. While they were able to secure the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference this season, they lost to the Chicago Bulls in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nets don't have a ton of salary cap flexibility, so the easiest way to get better next season is to bring in an elite coach. Although the Celtics struggled this season as they finished seventh in the Eastern Conference, it is clear that Rivers is one of the best and most respected coaches in the entire NBA.
Rivers' coaching record speaks for itself. He made the playoffs in three out of his four full seasons with the Orlando Magic and never finished below .500. Since the Celtics acquired Garnett and Allen prior to the 2007-08 season, Rivers has reached the postseason every year, made the NBA Finals twice and won the NBA Championship in 2007-08.
Most of the Celtics' success over the past several years has been attributed to Garnett, Pierce, Allen prior to his departure for Miami and Rajon Rondo, but Rivers has played as big a role as any player. It takes a special coach to take a bunch of players used to being No. 1 options and get them to buy in to playing team basketball.
Should the Celtics allow Rivers to speak with the Nets?
Rivers' Celtics teams have been among the best defensive squads in the league since 2007-08 and have always been a threat in the Eastern Conference. This was Boston's first sub-par year in quite some time, so there is no point in panicking and allowing Rivers to walk simply for the sake of making a change.
Both Garnett and Pierce are nearing the end of the line and Rondo will have to come back from a torn ACL next season, but there are still plenty of promising pieces in place. Avery Bradley is emerging as a defensive stopper, Jeff Green stepped into a featured role in the playoffs and young bigs like Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo are still developing.
The Celtics could let Rivers go and bring in a new voice, or they could opt to stick with a guy who has proven capable of building and coaching winning teams in the past. The Celtics should be better next season provided Rondo returns healthy and some of their younger players progress, so there is no reason to wipe the slate clean yet.
Also, the Nets are a team that the Celtics will have to deal with in the Eastern Conference for many years to come. They have a strong nucleus with Williams and Brook Lopez, and Rivers is the type of guy who can help them get to the next level. In the interest of protecting themselves and preventing a rival from getting significantly better, the Celtics need to keep Rivers in the fold.
Rivers signed a five-year extension in 2011, so the ball is in Boston's court. If the Celtics are smart, then Rivers will be standing on parquet rather than Brooklyn's unique herringbone design next season.
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