Will Kevin Garnett retire? What’s happening with Paul Pierce? Is anyone foolish enough to trade for Jason Terry? Offseason intrigue abounds. Today, though, we focus on the ongoing speculation surrounding Doc Rivers. To deal with it, we’ve deployed a weapons-grade version of the 3-on-3. Run for cover.
1. Is it a big deal we haven’t heard from Doc Rivers on his status for next season?
Ryan DeGama: Most likely: Rivers is coming back but feels no need to quash media speculation in the few precious weeks he gets to decompress. Less likely: He’s still uncertain, particularly with KG teetering on the brink of retirement. Unlikely: He’s going to abandon the great working relationship he has with his GM because Ainge is committed to a long, painful rebuild. The C’s will try to reload quickly, rather than rebuild.
Brian Robb: I think it’s worth watching. As I wrote last week, Doc was the one who initially sparked this speculation by declaring his was unsure about his return next season after losing Game 6 to the Knicks. Combine that with an uncertain roster and Doc probably wants some answers before he’s willing to commit to another season in Boston. For a guy who is so media friendly, he could end the speculation very quickly. The fact he hasn’t after weeks; now that says something.
Michael Pina: Being that he’s under contract for three more seasons and has the full support of everyone inside the organization, Rivers has no real reason to say anything, and outside of somewhat random media speculation/filler, there’s zero reason to believe he’d leave his position as head coach of the Boston Celtics. Or the guaranteed money that comes with it.
2. What’s your assessment of Doc’s coaching effort last season?
DeGama: I’m torn. For a coach consistently lauded for his clever sets out of timeouts, Boston’s regular offense was stultifyingly predictable and, again, horribly inefficient. Rivers was crippled by the injuries and lack of shot creators, so I’d temper my criticism but I’d also argue he could never figure out what to do with all the parts Danny Ainge got for him. He gets wins for the defense and Jeff Green’s second half but 2012-13 won’t feature in his Hall-of-Fame induction speech.
Robb: I thought it was underwhelming. Even before the injury bug hit, Doc’s offense continued to be bland and largely ineffective. Some of that blame has to go on the players, but when it happens year-after-year you have to look at the coach too and his lack of creativity. Rivers did a nice job revamping after the injury to Rondo, but questionable rotation decisions and an unwillingness to go deeper into his bench (Shavlik Randolph!) for a boost in the rebounding department didn’t help.
Pina: Last season the Celtics finished with the league’s 24th-ranked offense. Despite targeting offensive minded players over the summer, Boston’s offense barely improved, hopping to 20th in the rankings this season (and 23rd at the All-Star break, when Rajon Rondo was around for a majority of their games). It’s tough to pin this all on Rivers, but the team’s inability to string cohesive offensive quarters together has been discouraging to say the least.
3. Is Doc Rivers the right man to coach a young, rebuilding Celtics team?
DeGama: I don’t buy this leftover belief from the pre-KG era that Rivers struggles to develop young players, but I wonder if Doc now fancies himself a closer, the kind of guy you bring in when you have a veteran team ready to win a title. So, my answer here is a question, because I don’t doubt his capabilities: can Rivers stomach a rebuild when another team could offer him the chance to win now? I’m not sure the answer is yes.
Robb: I think this is the million dollar question. Rivers has a lot of miles on his coaching tires and though he’s developed a deserved legacy in Boston, coaching a young crew with some challenging personalities (Rondo, Green) can’t be particularly appealing. Financially, there’s plenty of appeal for him to stay put, but Doc can get that kind of money from the majority of the league right now. The big question is whether he wants to coach a younger crew and that’s a question we don’t know the answer to yet.
Pina: If not Doc Rivers, who? He’s one of the basketball’s best coaches and a symbol of consistent success for the league’s winningest organization. Developing players is a group effort, much like winning games, and there’s no reason to believe anyone is notably better at leading the effort than the man who’s already on board.