Can Rivers cure the Celtics?
By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The Boston Celtics introduced Glenn
“Doc” Rivers as their new head coach. Rivers, who played 13 years in the NBA
veteran, is the 16th head coach in franchise history.
Rivers replaces interim head coach John Carroll, who took over as general of
the Celtics when Jim O’Brien, who is now the head coach of the Philadelphia
The 42-year-old Rivers, who was named the 1999-2000 NBA Coach of the Year,
became only the fourth coach in Celtics’ history to have earned the NBA Coach
of the Year Award, joining Tom Heinsohn (1972-73), Bill Fitch (who won it with
Cleveland (1975-76) and Boston (1979-80)) and Red Auerbach (1964-65) for whom
the trophy is named.
The Celtics, who finished the regular season with a record of 36-46, made the
playoffs as the eighth seed and were swept out of the playoffs by the top-
seeded Indiana Pacers.
Boston’s head of basketball operations Danny Ainge has made a mess of things
in Boston. Before the 2003-04 season, he traded three-time All-Star Antoine
Walker along with Tony Delk to Dallas for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch, Chris
Mills and the Mavericks first round selection in the 2004 NBA Draft.
Ainge also acquired controversial guard Ricky Davis, center Chris Mihm,
forward Michael Stewart and a second-round draft pick from Cleveland for
swingman Eric Williams, center Tony Battie, and forward Kedrick Brown.
At least Ainge was smart enough not to trade All-Star Paul Pierce.
Rivers could be the right man for the job in Boston, as he does see some
positive things in Davis.
“Well this is the way I feel about Ricky Davis obviously he is viewed upon as
a wild card,” said Rivers. “I can tell you coaching against him he played hard
every single minute I have seen him play and some of his judgment at times has
not been that great. But I will tell you this; if I were in a game I would
rather have a guy that is capable of on a good night of taking a game over
than a guy that is not. I know Ricky Davis is athletic and he is capable at
times of doing special things good and bad. But he has the talent to put him
in that position. My job is to try to get that in the right spot and the right
position and I actually welcome that challenge.”
Ainge also feels Rivers can have a positive influence on Davis.
“I think Doc can have a big impact on Ricky,” said Ainge. “He is a person who
gets easily distracted and I think that Ricky needs to believe in the person
that is coaching him and teaching him in that respect.”
Also, Rivers, who was the head coach in Orlando for four-plus season, has
experience with a team that revolves around one player. He can relate to any
frustrations that Pierce has because he dealt with it when Magic All-Star
Tracy McGrady would go through the same thing.
“No it was tough,” Rivers said about dealing with McGrady’s frustrations. “I
would say at the end of the day Tracy’s frustration probably did me in a
lot of ways not because of Tracy but when you have a guy like Tracy you know
when you are look at some of out rosters there we were just trying to piece it
together. You lose a guy $91 million dollars every year who can’t play on your
team. You can’t build a team sometimes. Some of the things we had to do just
to surround Tracy just became difficult.”
Pierce, who is a three-time All-Star, averaged 23 points, 6.5 rebounds and a
career-high 5.1 assists in 80 games for Boston this season. He is a one-man
show and could really use that second option back that he used to have in
The new head coach of the Celtics will have to endure the same frustrations he
had in Orlando. He has one weapon (Pierce) in his arsenal.
Hopefully Ainge won’t mess things up anymore in Boston. However, Rivers says
he and Ainge are on the same page.
“Yea, I am,” said Rivers. “I really am. Again when I look at Jimmy Brown,
Jerry West, Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders I am sure they have disagreements
but the organizations that have that trust win. They may not win right away it
might take some time to get it worked out but in the long run. It works it is
proven. When people ask why did you take this job that is the reason because
there is trust that I feel like I can turn my back and close my eyes and feel
very good about that. That is very, very important.”
Ainge has made some very poor trades. He will get the chance to do some good
things in the NBA Draft, as the Celtics have multiple picks. The jury is still
out on Ainge, but he did make a solid hire in Rivers.
This is the best move that Ainge has made since taking over in Boston.