If the opportunity arises, Celtics coach Doc Rivers likely would make it possible for two of his assistants to interview for head coaching jobs during the playoffs.
Rivers said yesterday that NBA teams have inquired about his associate head coach, Tom Thibodeau, and assistant coach Armond Hill for head coaching openings. Rivers wouldn't reveal the teams, but the New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago jobs are open, and other openings could be on the horizon.
"Obviously, if they really want them they'll wait," Rivers said. "It just depends on the situation. The only thing I won't allow is someone to be named as a head coach until we're done.
"[Interviews] would depend on the situation, like if we had a five-day break in between [playoff series]. The thing I don't want to do is hurt their chances, which has happened when teams don't wait. To me, if they don't want to wait, they really didn't want you anyways."
Thibodeau is a first-year assistant with Boston and has 18 years of NBA experience. The former Salem State star has built a reputation as one of the league's finest defensive coaches and has received a lot of credit for his part in the Celtics having the NBA's top regular-season defense. The New Britain, Conn., native has helped coached 15 NBA teams that have been in the top 10 in defense.
When asked about Thibodeau's strengths, Rivers said, "His defensive knowledge and his passion. The one thing I love about Tibs is he's as passionate about the game as anybody I've been around. He loves it. He breathes it.
"At times he overworks. But as an assistant, that's what he has to do and he understands that role. If he was a head [coach], he would still work that hard. But he would need someone else to take care of some of that burden."
Hill is in his fourth season as a Celtics assistant. The eight-year former NBA player also was a Hawks assistant and was Columbia University's head coach for eight seasons. During the 2001-02 season, the Brooklyn native coached Columbia to the nation's top scoring defense.
When asked about Hill's strengths, Rivers said, "His offensive principles and his calm. Just his relationship with players and how he can get players to [work]. I always tell him, 'Anybody can be an X-and-O guy. The key is getting [the players] to run the Xs and Os.'
"I think Armond's known around the league for that. He's gotten guys to make cuts [offensively] and do things they normally don't want to do."
On Rivers's contract, which runs through next season, the coach said, "My situation's good. I don't want to talk about it. It doesn't need to be [talked about]. It's fine. I like it where it's at."
Pollard: More surgery
Injured center Scot Pollard said he will have right ankle surgery in Indianapolis Friday. The 11-year veteran is out for the season after surgery March 11 to repair a torn tendon in his left ankle. Pollard is scheduled to fly to Indianapolis Thursday and said his doctor won't be certain if his right ankle tendon needs extensive work like the left until the surgery takes place.
"The recovery on my left one is so long, it's going to be middle of June before I'm allowed to run," Pollard said. "We did an MRI on the [right] ankle. It has some of the same issues, not as bad. The doctor said I'd need surgery eventually. This doesn't slow down my other ankle since I can't come back this [season] anyway. Next season I'll have two good ankles.
"I can't play now, so I can get them both done and have two better ankles."
Pollard was expected to able to run on a treadmill in the middle of June after the left ankle surgery, but now he must wait until mid-July after the operation on the right one. The 6-foot-11-inch, 278-pounder was told by a doctor that he likely will be able to play basketball again in August.
"If I can go in September, it's good for me," Pollard said.
The 33-year-old played in 22 games this season. The free agent to be said he isn't thinking retirement and said there is a short list of teams he'd consider signing with next season, with the Celtics atop the list.
"I'm confident that teams will want me," Pollard said. "I'm a vet. People know what I can do. I still have that passion. I don't want to go to a rebuilding situation willingly, but money talks.
"But at the top of my list is Boston. I'd love to play a couple more years in Boston."
Marc J. Spears can be reached at email@example.com