Top Candidates to Replace Doc Rivers as Boston Celtics Head Coach

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

After an interminable wait and at least three separate instances in which the deal was pronounced dead, Doc Rivers is leaving the Boston Celtics for the head coaching job with the Los Angeles Clippers in return for a 2015 first-round pick, according to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston.

Now that the saga is over, the Celtics have to find someone to take Rivers' place on the sideline.

It's interesting to note that the Celtics probably aren't as prepared for a coaching search as they'd like to be. As recently as June 22, it appeared that Rivers might return to Boston to honor his contract, so there hasn't been a steady stream of interviews in president Danny Ainge's office lately.

Ready or not, the Celtics now have to select a coach who'll preside over the initial stages of the team's rebuilding efforts.

Boston wants to shed as much veteran salary as possible while also accumulating draft picks, which will almost certainly limit the types of coaches it will be able to attract. In other words, just forget about the idea of George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy or Stan Van Gundy even entering the state of Massachusetts, let alone sitting down for an interview.

Marquee coaches of their ilk will command far more money than the rebuilding Celtics will be willing to spend, and there's no way any of them would consider returning to the sidelines with a team that could very well be trying to lose enough games to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

That means the Celtics will be choosing among veteran retreads or inexpensive young coaches in search of an opportunity. Boston will be after beggars who don't have the luxury of being choosy.

Kevin Eastman

Kevin Eastman, an assistant on Rivers' staff, is beloved among Celtics fans. Had Rivers completed his contract, Eastman very well could have been the next man in line eventually.

Unfortunately, it appears that Rivers has designs on bringing some of his staff with him to Los Angeles, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Unless the Celtics are willing to make a substantial offer to keep him around—which they almost certainly aren't—Eastman probably isn't a realistic option.

Lionel Hollins

The former Memphis Grizzlies head coach was among the finalists for the Clippers job before Rivers captured it. He had also been linked to the opening with the Denver Nuggets, per ESPN's Chris Broussard.

With his options dwindling, Lionel Hollins could be a decent candidate to take over in Boston.

There would definitely be a few issues, though, not the least of which would be Hollins' notoriously short leash with young players. With the Celtics looking to get younger, Hollins might have to think twice before accepting a job that would involve as much babysitting as strategizing.

Still, the Celtics have apparently had interest in Hollins before.

Chances are he won't come quite so cheap in 2013, though.

Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw was right there alongside Hollins as a Clippers finalist, so he's also still in search of a gig.

Unlike Hollins, who is viewed as something of a safe, known commodity, Shaw is an exciting young coach with a reputation for engaging well with young players.

With experience under Phil Jackson and more recently Frank Vogel, Shaw has accumulated quite a resume in his 11 years as an assistant. And with jobs disappearing left and right, he's got to be wondering if he'll ever get a shot at a head coaching gig.

The Celtics could capitalize on his frustration with a low-ball offer.

This is a nice fit for all parties involved, and frankly, the Celtics would be lucky to land Shaw.

Vinny Del Negro

It's hard to think of a coach who has had more on-court success while earning a worse reputation than Vinny Del Negro. His Clippers teams made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, but the prevailing thought is that Del Negro was probably more of a hindrance than a help in those accomplishments.

In fairness, anyone who watched Del Negro fail as a strategist and bumble his way through lineup decisions understands precisely why he's regarded as something of a joke.

And yet, here he is among the leading candidates to take over for the departed Rivers, according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.

Del Negro won't command a high salary—he made about $1 million last year—and he's probably not going to be fighting off other suitors. But if the Celtics really do end up hiring him, whatever veterans remain on the roster aren't going to be happy.

Danny Ainge

Want to know how a team like the Celtics could really save some money? Just have the president of basketball operations take on the additional role of head coach. That's two jobs with one paycheck!

It might seem crazy, but Ainge was a successful NBA coach before taking over in the Celtics front office. In four seasons as coach of the Phoenix Suns, Ainge amassed a solid 136-90 record and led the team to three postseason berths.

After such a wild few weeks, it seems like just about anything is possible for the Celtics, including Ainge as head coach.

Usually, it'd be an honor to be among those considered candidates for the head coaching job of the Boston Celtics. But instead of looking for high-profile coaches for a high-profile gig, the Celtics are after a stopgap who'll work for peanuts.

Rivers' exit signaled a sea change in Boston's philosophy. The team's coaching search will be proof of that.


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