It has been 37 days since the Celtics season ended at the hands of the New York Knicks on May 3rd. The NBA Finals is now in full bloom, with Game 2 tonight, and the NBA draft is now less than three weeks away.
Very shortly, the 2012-13 season will officially be over, and the 2013-14 campaign will start gearing up. So why is Doc Rivers still silent on whether or not he's going to return next season?
Well according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, it may have something to do with the uncertain futures of both Paul Pierce (who has a team option that must be picked up or declined by June 30th) and Kevin Garnett (who may retire). From Murphy's article.
Beyond whatever private considerations he might be contemplating, Rivers is waiting for Ainge to make two enormous, potentially era-changing decisions.
He has to decide whether to renew Paul Pierce’s contract by June 30, and whether to bring back Garnett. The alternative is moving one or both assets to build for the future.
Garnett, in turn, still might be debating a return, though according to a league source, he has not had surgery on his troublesome left leg. Garnett spent all of his off-court playoff time in a therapeutic boot, and dropped hints about how much the inflammation in his left ankle area cut down on mobility. But rest appears to have been the solution to his issues.
Rivers, who stays in touch with everyone, surely has talked to Garnett as well as Pierce, even if Ainge has not. But could the uncertainty involving both players be giving the Celtics coach pause?
Rivers’ tie with Garnett, in particular, is as strong as any player-coach relationship in the league. Gregg Popovich has something this strong with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, and that example is probably the only one left in this increasingly transient league.
Rivers at least tacitly acknowledged he would be involved in an eventual rebuild two years ago when he signed a five-year, $35 million extension. The Celtics’ surprising ability to come within a game of the 2012 Finals was a short-lasting narcotic. It temporarily glossed the future. Last season, with all of its injuries, was the comedown.
Maybe Ainge decides that there’s not enough future benefit via trades or free agency, and decides to give Pierce and Garnett one final run in green.
But the Celtics president and his coach are in a curious dance, with each man waiting for the other to bust a move.
Considering Doc's extremely close, personal relationship with his stars, it only makes sense that he would want to wait to see if they are coming back before making his decision; but isn't that a bit selfish?
As Murphy notes, Rivers signed a 5 year, $35 million deal in 2011, knowing full well that he would be here for part of the rebuilding process. Now, two years in, he's on the fence about whether or not he wants to return? There's something off about that if true. If the Celtics end up declining Pierce's option on June 30th, and KG makes his decision soon after, is it really responsible for Rivers to wait until early-July to make his decision? By then, the Celtics will have missed out on a slew of coaching free agents, drafted players that Doc has helped scout, and started on the free agent process. It just seems late in the game to make such a franchise altering decision. Considering he has 3 years left on his deal as the NBA's highest paid coach, the right move is to come back and help the team through what could be a transitional year.
Again, this is all speculation by Murphy, but when you look at how much time has passed without an answer from Doc, this makes all the sense in the world. I enjoy Doc, and think he does a really good job, but the time for a decision is now. Before the team drafts on June 27th, before the team signs players that fit his system in free agency, and yes, before Pierce and KG's futures are known. Doc is the leader of this team, it's time he regains that title.
Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13 Michael Dyer 6/09/2013 12:08:00 PM Tweet Edit