Doc Must Walk

The Boston Celtics cannot bring Rivers back as head coach now.   By: Scott LaCascia   Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers will sit down and talk on Wednesday, amid much turmoil and controversy regarding the latter's future as the head coach of the Boston Celtics. After nearly two weeks of rumors and speculation, this much is clear: Wyc Grousbeck, Ainge and the Celtics CANNOT bring back Doc Rivers as their coach. They don't have a choice anymore. They need to get the Los Angeles Clippers back on the phone and get something done. Ainge stated as recently as yesterday that they would welcome Doc back as head coach if he wished to return, but anything that Ainge and the Celtics say from here on out is just damage control. This isn't going to end well, but at this point it just needs to end.   There have been several reports since the Celtics' season ended about the future of Rivers and future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Of those three, the ones who were likely on the way out were Garnett and Pierce. Garnett re-signed with Boston last summer for three years, but he hinted that he would either finish the two years on his deal or retire after the season. Pierce, who has been the face of the franchise since he was drafted 15 years ago, still has one year remaining on the four year deal that he signed in the summer of 2010. The Celtics have the option to buy him out of the last year of the deal, a decision that Ainge and the Celtics must make by June 30th. It was assumed that no matter what the Celtics decided to do with Garnett and Pierce, that Rivers would return as head coach. However, Rivers indicated that he wasn't completely sure of his future after their first round playoff exit against the New York Knicks. “I’m not leaning that way of not coming back, I can tell you that,” Rivers said. “If I told you right now, I’m coming back. But I immerse myself and I need to just detox, and we’ll find that out.”   Doc has been linked to the Clippers for the past several weeks. The first proposed deal that was discussed involved sending Rivers and Kevin Garnett to the Clippers (Garnett indicated that he would waive his no trade clause to go to Los Angeles), and in return the Celtics would receive center DeAndre Jordan and third-year point guard Eric Bledsoe. Those talks died down fairly quickly as the Clippers were reluctant to include Bledsoe in the deal, but gained momentum again when Los Angeles offered Jordan and a first round draft pick for Rivers and Garnett. It was reported that if the deal went through, the Clippers would sign Rivers to a five year extension through 2018. It was also assumed that Pierce would sign with the Clippers after being bought out by the Celtics in the next two weeks. Talks allegedly broke down yesterday because Ainge requested Jordan and two number ones, and both sides confirmed that the deal was dead. The Clippers appear to have moved on (for now), as they have an interview with Byron Scott scheduled for this week. Scott coached Chris Paul in New Orleans, and LA could hire him in an attempt to keep Paul in Los Angeles long term.   If Rivers does coach the Clippers next season, will Garnett and Pierce be joining him?   This started a couple of years ago when Rivers signed a five year deal worth $35 million. Doc doesn't want to go through another rebuilding period. At the time that Rivers signed his current deal, Pierce was 34 years old, Garnett was 35, and Ray Allen was 36. How could he have been so short sighted and not seen this coming? He couldn't have expected those three to play a major role or even be on the team in the final years of that contract. Rivers was leery of staying in Boston for another roster overhaul, but was handed a contract with all of those zeros and agreed to stay on. There's no shame in that, $35 million is more money than 99% of people see in their lifetime, but you have to be willing to honor your contract.   Even if Rivers returns for his tenth season in Boston, he failed to hold up his end of the bargain. The Celtics invested in him long term, and when faced with the possibility of starting from scratch and building a new nucleus, he looked for an escape route like a coward. Rivers has preached "Ubuntu" during his tenure in Boston, meaning togetherness, unity, family. Rivers proved hypocritical and threw all of that out the window when he pursued the Clippers job. If you're the Celtics, how do you bring him back as your head coach? Whether Garnett and Pierce return or not, how are his players supposed to trust Rivers and have faith in him when they know that he didn't want to be their coach? His relationship with point guard Rajon Rondo over the years has been rocky at best, how does that relationship improve after Doc tried to skip town? Owner Wyc Grousbeck made Doc the highest paid coach in the league and never even attempted to interfere with how he handled the club. How does Grousbeck have faith in this guy next season, with a rebuilding process even closer than it already is a year from now? Assuming the proposed deal were to happen, if Rivers coached a Clippers team with Garnett, Pierce, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, is that team a clear cut favorite to win an NBA title? The Clippers won 56 games and couldn't make it out of the first round, so we're expected to believe that an over-the-hill Kevin Garnett and over-the-hill Paul Pierce automatically vault that team to the NBA Finals? The Celtics should get the Clippers back on the phone, and take whatever they can get for Rivers and Garnett. In the span of just a few days, the Celtics went from being in the driver's seat to being the desperate team in this transaction. They need this to happen now. The fact of the matter is that is doesn't matter if you have a great coach if your team is lousy. The Celtics need to rebuild, and it might be time for a new voice for new players. Let Rivers go out to LA with KG and Paul and get bounced in the second round by Oklahoma City or San Antonio. Either way, Doc will be laughing all the way to the bank. But his legacy and reputation in Boston will be forever tarnished. Rivers quit on the Celtics, he lied to his owner, his players and the fans. When the going got tough, he wanted out. Let Doc walk away, the Celtics don't need a turncoat quitter coaching the young core that Danny Ainge is trying to build.