1. What is your reaction to the deal?
Brendan Jackson: All signs pointed to an impending Rivers departure so getting something for him is definitely a plus. Even if he did come back, the C’s would have had to convince him that they were contenders. Having Rivers pull a Rasheed Wallace and use half a season to get invested wouldn’t have been ideal.
Ryan DeGama: I’ve lobbied hard for a rebuild over the last six months so I’m relieved the Celtics aren’t content with another early round exit in the name of “loyalty.” I’m also thrilled Ainge extracted a first rounder for a guy who wasn’t fully onboard with rebuilding. At the same time, sentiment has kicked in. Doc is a terrific coach and a great guy. The team and the city will be less without him.
Michael Pina: 1. It’s a big win for the Celtics. Doc Rivers had a change of heart and no longer wanted to coach in Boston, that’s fine. It happens. For the team to get out from owing him $21 million on top of receiving an unprotected first round pick two years from now is amazing, and will kickstart a necessary renovation.
2. Does Rivers deserve any heat for opting out of the C’s rebuilding and the final three years of his contract?
Jackson: On the one hand, we tend to hate front runners in Boston (nice ring, Ray!). On the other hand, Rivers’ best coaching quality is personality management, which is not as necessary when you’re a non-contender. On the other hand, Doc laid the “I’m a Celtic” stuff on real thick. On the other hand, I now have four hands!
DeGama: No. Here’s why: 1) The Celtics knew Doc was unlikely to fulfill his full contract when he resigned two years ago. 2) He killed himself for this team while he was here. 3) The Clipper deal was conceptualized by Danny Ainge. If you can rationalize these things with the idea Rivers “betrayed” the Celtics, then by all means, go ahead and do so. But I can’t.
Pina: Doc Rivers is a great basketball coach, and he’ll be missed. If there was no non-compete clause in his contract, allowing the Celtics to receive handsome compensation for his departure, then despite all the wonderful things he did for the city of Boston and its beloved professional basketball team, Rivers would deserve all the criticism in the world for wanting to leave when things got tough.
3. Who would you like to see as Boston’s next coach?
Jackson: A defensive minded guy who wants to build something here. Or a guy who is going to lose a bunch of games. Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are franchise alterers.
DeGama: I’m intrigued with Brian Shaw’s history as a player (something Ainge values in a head coach) and within multiple NBA systems (something that feels important given the roster could be reshaped a couple of times before the Celtics next play in the finals). I also love the fact that he’s not Vinny Del Negro. For these reasons, he’s my choice.
Pina: Vinny Del Negro! Just kidding. The Celtics are re-building, so big-name/high-priced coaches who recently tasted postseason basketball and want some more of it quickly probably won’t fit (think Lionel Hollins and George Karl). Two names to look out for are Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale. Both would be first time head coaches looking to grow with their own group of young talent. They’d also be cheap, and more than familiar with the Eastern Conference’s current powerhouses.