Doc Rivers was like most Celtics fans, he wanted to see Paul Pierce retire a Celtic.
Doc was recently in town for a charitable basketball event for ABCD and spoke about a few C’s topics, including the trades of The Captain and fan favorite Kendrick Perkins. After last season general manager Danny Ainge was at a crossroads: keep his aging, fading superstars of Pierce and KG or trade them to get value and build for the future.
Unfortunately we all know what Ainge decided to do which disappointed many people, Rivers chief among them. Doc envisioned a different plan for how Pierce’s career would end in Boston:
“I didn’t want Paul to go, even though I knew it was coming,” said Rivers. “That was a tough one for me. Even when I was here and it was being talked about — my thing is, Kobe [Bryant] is going to end up being a Laker for life. Dirk [Nowitzki] is going to be a Maverick. That’s the one thing that, if we didn’t do right, that was the one right thing we didn’t do for Paul.”
The Brooklyn trade wasn’t the only trade that Ainge made which Doc disagreed with; he also didn’t like the Perk trade. His reasoning is kind of interesting:
“I think [it was a mistake] because we needed the toughness," Rivers said. "The one thing we did by losing Perk was we removed Kevin’s protector. I didn’t think it was a coincidence that, after Perk left, that Kevin got into all those little flicks with the other teams. Perk deflected all that.”
I get what he’s saying about toughness, it's an intangible that basketball teams need. But would a healthy Shaquille O’Neal have made that trade look better? Shaq, even though was in his twilight years, was still more skilled offensively than Perk, even though not as ‘tough’. I think the issue with that trade was Ainge threw all his eggs in the ‘hope Shaq stays healthy’ basket which didn’t pan out, and Doc just doesn’t want to throw Shaq under the bus.
The speculation about what really happened between Ainge and Rivers is all over the place, turning into a ‘he said, he said’ cat fight and making Rivers look like he quit on the team. What day is today? Because every other day it seems like Doc has a new reason or story about why he wanted out as head coach of the Celtics. So today the tune is that he didn’t like dumping his veteran leaders Pierce and KG, it was disrespectful and he didn’t feel right coaching without them.
Apparently the disconnect between Ainge and Rivers started with the trade and had absolutely nothing to do with Doc being against a rebuild. I do think Rivers is telling the truth about wanting Pierce to retire a Celtic, but who’s to say Doc wouldn’t have pulled the same stunt anyways to get off a sinking and aging team? Pierce will always be a Boston Celtics, regardless if he plays a season or two in Brooklyn. The notion that Pierce needed to play his entire career in Boston is kind of old fashion, it would have been cool, but that dude bleeds green irregardless of if he puts on a different uniform.
Doc might actually believe everything he’s saying, but it also kind of sounds like he’s pulling at the heart-strings of fans to try and get back in good graces with them. He just wants to do right by everyone and be liked. So I agree with Bill Simmons, until he comes out and sticks with a story I’m going to think he quit on the Celtics. Don’t hold your breath though; the Doc PR Train is still moving forward. I will always think fondly of Doc River's years coaching this team, he seemed to get what this franchise is all about. Thankfully there's one thing Doc and I can agree on, we both wish Pierce was still wearing green.
Follow me on Twitter: @MattyMackay Matt Mackay 9/13/2013 11:57:00 AM Tweet Edit