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3-on-3: What’s Up With Doc?

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.

  • swissflix

    i like doc but i am afraid he is not the most creative person on earth. we really need some new sets on offense and i think Terry's disappointing season has at least partially to do with doc's inability to use him properly. it's not like Terry was 15 years younger in Dallas, after all.

  • r u kidding me? Doc is very creative one bad season does not mean that he is not creative

  • TMC

    Doc earned his cred in Boston when he brilliantly managed the turnaround when KG and Ray showed up in town in 2008. His defense-first mentality gave the team an identity and something to rally around. To me, 08-12 teams and their defense reminded me a lot of another championship calibur team: The 03-08 Spurs .

    A lot of what the Celtics have right now is very close to the spurs: a wily vet center that anchors the team (KG, Duncan), an older but still very effective wing (Manu, PP), the younger point guard who has emerged as the top playmaker (Rondo, Parker), and some effective pieces that bring something to the table (Green/Bradley/Sullinger, Leonard/Green/ Splitter).

    So what separates these two teams today is that the Spurs have gone from a top 3 defense/bottom 15 offense team to a top 5 offense/middle of the pack defense with very similar pieces in place. Almost all of this transition can be attributed to one thing: Popvich. He was able to change the team's identity to more accurately reflect his players abilities/age.

    What I would like to see from Doc is if he can adjust the identity of this team to more accurately reflect the state of the players we have today. Does it mean we have to become just like the Spurs? No, but it looks like the legendary D/bottom 10 offense isn't going to cut it anymore.

    • dslack

      Good post, but a key difference is that Pop plays his whole roster and develops his whole roster. If Randolph were on the Spurs, he would have gotten a lot more run than he got here, and he'd be another surprise find for their "amazing GM" RC Buford. (Hint: While Buford probably is a great GM, a lot of the Spurs' success with unheralded players is because Pop develops them, not because they're magically the only team that can find diamonds in the rough. Every team gets those players, but Pop polishes the diamonds.)

    • Jason

      Right, but at this point in their careers, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are still both somewhere around the Top 5 players in this whole league, and none of the Celtics top three are. KG and PP are still stars, but not superstars. That'll make a big difference.

  • T.Quinton Smith

    Doc is mentally challenged when it comes to offense. The only reason we went as far in the playoffs last year was because of Flip Saunders. It's always to fiddle and diddle at the end of a shot clock and let PP shoot. There was a time when that worked but now….please.

    Been a fan since 1970 and torn between Doc's past accomplishments him totally ignoring rookies lack of offense, at the end of season rotation confusion it might be time for Doc to go. I would prefer Brian Shaw as our coach

  • High Rollers

    Making castles in the air here, but if you’re Doc wouldn’t it be invigorating to finally see the twenty-somethings RR, AB, JG, and JS mesh? The nausea inducing part of that is realizing all four guys have gone through serious injury. Where would that core land between explosive and vulnerable, dynamic and combustible? No wonder Doc is taking his sweet Derrick Rose-esque time about it.

  • Los Angeles Celtics Fan

    Doc Rivers gets no cred for the defense of the 2008 team, we all know that was Thibs. Rivers just wants a team given to him on a silver platter. Pierce has to go. Kg has to stay and come off the bench. Rondo Avery Sully Green and (enter new center here). How do you have trouble coaching that lineup?

  • It's too late to expect Doc Rivers to grow as a coach. He is what he is, a Mr. Nice guy and the most overrated coach in the history of professional sports.

  • Anthony

    Isn't Doc the highest paid coach in the league?

    I've always thought Doc as a above average coach but there aren't too many available coaches I would prefer to have instead. Jeff Van Gundy possibly?

  • fabzzz

    So apparently KG is leaning towards coming back, but Celtics plan A is Paul Milsap?

    Celtics blog reporting on Jackie MacMullan

    • hax

      If they dump the $ bench guys, we can sign millsap. Rondo-Pierce-Green-Millsap-Garnett is no joke. Or bradley starting, pierce off the bench with randolph/sullinger…wowwww

      • Anthony

        It was a stretch but I was lobbying for a Bass and JET (or CLee) for Milsap and Foye (or Burks) trade this past season. Obviously the trade would have been more beneficial to the Celts but it also made sense for the Jazz since they were still in the lead for the last playoff spot.

  • Joe

    trade terry for thomas robinson…

    • hax

      A cheap 22 year old PF with huge potential, it'd be a real steal if the Celtics can grab him. Bass hit his ceiling of 10 ppg and pushing carmelo backwards every play holding him to 30 ppg. And if they want to keep doing small ball, future core of rondo-bradley-green-sullinger-robinson

      • Joe

        Yes sir! and who better to learn from then KG. He's athletic. YOUNG. Only will cost about 3.4mil and then the rockets can dump terry and attempt to get Dwight "softest" Howard. The rockets are actively shopping him, which means Danny will probably go sign somebody like Steve Blake and Ronny Turiaf instead..

        • Josh_5

          Jajuan Johnson was supposed to be that guy too, wasn't he?

          • hax

            late 1st round pick vs. 5th overall is a huge difference.