Those of you who know me recognize that I rarely post on the C's forum...spending the great majority of my time on the Pats' forum. But, after reading this silly article on the Celts, entitled, "This could not have been Pan A for the Celtics", I felt inclined to comment.
Below s the full text of the article, with my commentary in Celtic green:
There's a certain clarity present only in the moments while waiting for a press conference that may never come. In a few hours or a few days (I have one eye on my car keys just in case), a group of Celtics reporters will speed off to Waltham to hear the team explain why Doc Rivers leaving to coach the Clippers is best for everyone involved. It will be explained to us that it was a mutual decision, that the Celtics even went to Rivers and suggested it, and that the coach, affable as always, said something along the lines of, "Whatever I can do to help."
RESPONSE: Really, did Danny Ainge have a choice in this matter? Doc didn't want to reside over a team that must be rebuilt from the ground up. Can any of you really blame him for feeling this way? He's become an established coach...perhaps the best in the game. But, as Phil Jackson realized, no matter how great a coach you are, you need talent to win championships. It is the chance to win a championship that keeps the juices flowing in a coach, as much as in a player. Winning multiple championships is what establishes a coaches' legacy. Yes...the Celts could have enforced Doc's contract...and forced an unmotivated Doc to coach a bad team, or retire. How would that have helped the Celtics rebuild?
Everyone, of course, will be of his or her own mind to determine how much of the narrative to absorb, but there's also something fun about being in this pre-spin limbo. And when I get right down to it, I keep going back to something Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog tweeted last week:
"This couldn't have been Plan A."
RESPONSE: Ridiculous! What else could the Celtics do? In truth, they were lucky to have gotten the Clippers' unprotected, #1 draft choice in 2015 for agreeing to let Doc go. Danny Ainge had no leverage...and he had that Celtic hating commissioner, David Stern, breathing down his neck.
Whether you're on Team Doc or Team Danny or tired of the whole thing, it's nearly impossible to believe that the way this thing played out over the last week was Danny Ainge's primary plan heading into the offseason. Ainge spent most of the last week haggling over the departure of his coach while the futures of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were put on hold. With Rajon Rondo coming off knee surgery, the Celtics still don't have a point guard. The NBA draft is Thursday, there's a situation with Terrence Williams, and we haven't even mentioned poor Chris Wilcox yet (he's the team's only free agent).
RESPONSE: Again...what else could Danny have done? Kevin Garnett is still a viable commodity. Rondo, if healthy, will draw some interest. Paul Pierce less so. Perhaps Ainge would have been better off cap-wise and otherwise, selling off his "Big Three" at the end of last season...after Doc had signed his long term deal. But, perhaps Doc was induced into signing on by assurances that the Celts would keep their vets, and try to make another run.
In any event, better late than never. Danny and the rest of us exerienced first hand what happens when a team holds on too long to it's veteran stars when, in the late 80s, the team chose to ride the then "Big Three" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish into the ground. The result was almost 20 years of irrelevance and misery...which allowed the hated Lakers to wrest the mantle of the leagues' most storied franchise, away.
Immediately following a 4-1 series loss to the Heat two years ago, Rivers sat down at the podium in Miami and announced, unprompted, that he was coming back. I was on deadline, tasked with wrapping up the season, and the consensus among the people covering the team had been that Doc would take his time making a decision. The announcement made our No. 1 story of the offseason a moot point in a matter of minutes. "I'm a Celtic," he said that night, and he sounded like a man who meant it.
RESPONSE: I'm sure that Doc meant what he said. But, there are realities to be faced. Do the Celtics want to pay a coach $7mil. per year to wet-nurse a team in transition? Instead, aren't the Celtics wise to let Doc walk in order to expedite the rebuilding process...by getting compensation? Does Danny intend to sell off his prime veteran pieces away to the highest bidder, in exchange for draft choices, and/or younger talent? This appears to be his plan...and the only plan that makes any sense.
It's not a reporter's place to call out Rivers for his change of heart, though fans have every right to do so. Ray Allen got plenty of grief for going to Miami. You can judge Rivers or give him a free pass, but what's clear about all this is that he wanted to stay then and he doesn't want to now.
RESPONSE: Silly. Yes...that is not a "reporters' place". But, it certainly is the place of a sports columnist to render his/her opinion.
Ainge worked feverishly to get Rivers to Los Angeles. He did well to get compensation. That doesn't mean all is now well and good.
RESPONSE: Ainge did do well, under the circumstances. Sure, the Celts may not inially be as well of without Doc. But, isn't this true of any transaction in which a team trades a known commodity for a future draft choice?
Rivers wanting to leave is bad for everyone who stays behind. It's bad for Jeff Green, who was just starting to get his confidence under his head coach. It's bad for Avery Bradley, who clearly lost his down the last stretch of the season. It's especially bad for Rondo, who looks like someone Rivers, unfairly or not, wanted to get away from.
RESPONSE: How is his bad for Rondo, if he and Rivers didn't get along? Whose to say that these players will all suffer without Doc? Whose to say that a guy like Brian Shaw won't be a good replacement for Doc?
Ainge is trying to rebuild the team, and acquiring assets is what it's all about. A first-round draft pick in exchange for a coach is a good place to start, and there's likely more compensation coming for the services of Pierce and Garnett. Rondo may be Ainge's biggest chip, if he truly wants to start from scratch.
RESPONSE: Amen! At last we agree!
Rivers's desire to leave doesn't make him a bad guy. He was great with the media. We liked him, which in turn is a part of the reason fans liked him, which is part of the reason he's getting a relative free pass for the events of the last two weeks. Rivers was easy to get along with. (I'll especially miss his "you know, 'Doc' is just a nickname" stance on injuries.)
RESPONSE: You media guys are so full of yourself! You think that you can make or break a coach by whether you like him, and give him favorable reviews? You probably also believe that fans will swallow anything that you guys write. I've got news for you...it doesn't matter whether you media folks like a coach, or not.What fans care about are his results...not how well he gets along with the press!! For example, you media clowns hate Bill Belichick. But, we fans love him, because he puts you guys in your place, and he produces!!
Being a nice guy and putting the franchise in a bad spot are not mutually exclusive. By agreeing to go along for a ride while Ainge held out for a draft pick, Rivers helped the process. But something happened between that night in Miami two years ago, the signing of a five-year contract a few weeks later, and this offseason that made Rivers want to leave.
RESPONSE: How do you know? Could it be that the Celtics saw a chance to get an unprotected #1 draft choice in exchange for Doc...and that Doc saw an opportunity to go coach a talented team? Why must animosity be in the mix?
The Celtics have spent the bulk of their offseason trying to facilitate his departure, and they now face the daunting task of overhauling the franchise without their coach of the last nine seasons. Whatever happens from here, this could not have been the plan all along.
RESPONSE: Ridiculous. Everybody knows that the Celtics need to rebuild. Danny Ainge appears to be taking steps to expedite the process. http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/extras/celtics_blog/2013/06/this_could_not_have_been_plan_a_for_the_celtics.html