As much as I try, I can't seem to make complete sense of what is happening right now with Doc Rivers. I get it that he needed a couple of weeks after the season to get his head straight and make a decision on whether he was coming back or not. But, it's been 6 weeks and he has been at the workouts and consulting with Danny on next season like he's coming back but he still won't make that commitment publicly. In fact, he's making comments that maybe he doesn't want to come back. And what's more, we're seeing comments that he might just want to coach another team next season rather than the Celtics. This just doesn't fit with the character that we've come to expect from Doc.
Back when Doc signed his contract in 2011, he had this to say about facing a rebuild over the course of his 5 year contract:
“Well, I don’t think anyone’s looking forward to that, but I’m willing to do that,” he said then. “I had a group that has been very loyal to me. I think it would have been very easy for me to just run and go somewhere else and chase something else.
“I just don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Coaches talk about loyalty and team, and I just thought it was time to show it.”
In the Globe today, Baxter Holmes reports that Doc may have had a complete about face on what he said just 2 years ago.
One of the main issues, they said, is that Rivers is uneasy about the prospects of coaching a team in rebuilding mode.
“It’s a fact that Doc isn’t sure if he wants to go all-in on a team that doesn’t have much of a chance to win,” one league source said.
So, what happened in 2 years that would cause such an about face that Doc would basically hold the team hostage for 6 weeks and still not commit to being here next year? In a discussion on Sports Tonight on CSNNE, Kirk Minihane and Gary Tanguay discuss how this is so inconsistent with Doc's character and I have to agree. They speculate that possibly Doc is tired of dealing with Rondo and just doesn't want to coach him any longer. That seems odd since just the other day Rondo expressed how well he and Doc were getting along and that he didn't want to play for anyone but Doc.
On Celtics Hub and elsewhere they have speculated that Doc is trying to use his leverage to influence Danny's decision on whether to keep Pierce, and thus Garnett, this season or to begin the rebuild and trade or release his veteran leaders. That might make sense and there have been reports that Doc and Danny aren't exactly on the same page any more. But, in a Herald article, Steve Bulpett reports that his sources insist that Doc is very angry over the reports that he and Danny aren't getting along and also that this has nothing to do with the Pierce situation.
Another source insists Rivers is angry over reports he is at odds with Danny Ainge about the direction of the Celtics as they try to rebuild on the fly.
“None of what’s happening now is tied to Paul (Pierce) or Kevin (Garnett) or any of that,” the source said. “There’s always been a very good relationship with Danny, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why he’ll still probably come back.The rebuilding has been coming for a while. It easily could have happened last year. (Rivers has) known all about it and been part of the conversations and decisions.”
So what is it? Has Doc become a Diva as Gary Tanguay so emphatically states on CSNNE? It certainly is strange because if Doc is leaving, he is putting the organization that he has professed loyalty to and love for in the past in a very bad spot. There are 12 other teams looking for coaches and some of the better coaches are being taken off the market as Doc fiddles and diddles.
Bulpett also mentions that sources are saying that Doc is concerned about losing effectiveness by staying in one place too long.
Now, according to sources, he is said to be concerned about staying in one place too long and losing effectiveness. Rivers has been with the Celtics for nine seasons, and though he said late this season he has strong relationships with his players (he mentioned Rajon Rondo, who recently said he wanted to continue playing for Rivers), the notion that coaches have limited shelf lives has crept into his thinking.
This might have more credence if he had the same group every year and it was evident that they were tuning him out. This would be like when Bill Fitch, a good coach but also a strict disciplinarian, who had great success early was replaced by soft spoken KC Jones because the team had matured and no longer needed a drill sergeant. But, the team has changed from year to year and Doc hasn't had the same group every season. Last season, there were 9 new faces. Chances are there will be several new faces again this season. Also, if Doc is such a good coach, he would find a way to reach those players and not just say I'm leaving because I've been here too long. That just doesn't fit as a legitimate reason for all this drama.
Perhaps the reason sits in yet another comment from the Bulpett article.
Rivers is also said to be intrigued now by some of the high profile jobs that are — or could be — available. According to one source, it’s fair to assume he would want to be more than just the coach were he to move on, gaining some measure of control over player personnel in the process.
If this is truly the case, then Doc is not any different from Phil Jackson that I've held in much contempt for his decisions to take on contending teams with superstars and leave them when they rebuild. Maybe Tanguay is right. Doc's a Diva just like Jackson. We may never know the full truth as to why this whole drama has played out. But the fact is, whatever decision Doc makes, his image has been forever tarnished in the eyes of the Celtics faithful because of the situation he has put the team in and the agony that he has put Celtic nation through for these past 6 weeks.
He may end up staying for the $7 million or because Danny won't let him out of his contract, but the fact will remain that he wanted to leave because he was intrigued by coaching opportunities elsewhere. We can't look at him the same again. Maybe this isn't out of character for Doc. Maybe this has been his character all along and it's just now coming out. Red always disliked Phil Jackson because of his penchant for taking on ready made teams and I think he'd disapprove of what Doc is doing in much the same way.
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