Here's what Doc had to say according to NBA.com's Scott-Howard Cooper:
“I genuinely see traits of Bill Russell,” the Clippers coach stated without hesitation or deep, deep regret.
Rivers – the former Celtics coach, the man who said Boston is the place that made him – has made the comparison before, only now Jordan is first in the league in rebounding and fourth in blocks, with first in shooting percentage tossed in for good measure, so who cares if it’s heresy.
Doc further elaborated:
“I genuinely see traits of Bill Russell. I didn’t say he was Bill Russell. I just think that’s a good thing. What do you see? You see block shots, he’s the (leading) rebounder in the league, he’s blocking everything that comes his way and he changes shots. That’s what Bill Russell does. So that’s been a good thing.”
“Again, I think it’s a good thing to say,” Rivers said. “The guys you talk to, they’ll say that and say, ‘Yeah.’ But there’s a lot of guys that have had the potential. There’s a lot of guys that have had the potential to be Kobe or Michael. And DJ’s following through. He’s really focused on that end and he really believes that that’s his impact. And it really has been. He’s been great.”
It is a fair comparison in the sense that Jordan is blocking shots, getting rebounds and starting the break on one of the most high octane teams in the league.
The Clippers are second in the league in scoring behind the Portland Trail Blazers.
Also, like Russell, Jordan is shooting minimal shots per game. He is also shooting at a much better percentage than Russell ever did. This is more due to his lack of offensive repertoire, as opposed to Russell, who was the consummate team player, and a high amount of Deandre's finishes being dunks.
But, still, on paper, it's a fair comparison in those terms.
Doc's coaching this season needs to be commended in large part for what he's getting out of Jordan who, not unlike Celtic small forward Jeff Green, had throughout his career exhibited glimpses of greatness followed by long spells of mediocrity and disappearing acts.
Jordan's most impressive improvement has been on the glass where for some reason he seemed to always underachieve. This season he's averaging nearly double what he was last season (14.0 to 7.2) in only just over eleven minutes more per game.
The elephant in the room for the organization then becomes: Did the Celtics make a mistake by not pulling the trigger on the Jordan for Kevin Garnett trade when they had the opportunity?
I, for one, was a huge proponent of the deal at the time for numerous reasons.
For starters, when it was first reported nearly a year ago by Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the deal included KG for guard Eric Bledsoe and center DeAndre Jordan.
In my opinion this was a win win for everyone on the Celtic side of the deal including Garnett.
The Celtics championship window had obviously closed and this would allow The Big Ticket to pursue another championship with a good team while the Celtics received two very exciting young pieces in return.
Sure, DeAndre Jordan's deal was considered inflated, but we'd be receiving the backup to Rondo we never had and Jordan's contract expired after next season.
Also, we would be in rebuild mode anyway so why not bring Jordan in and see what he could to.
If he still underachieved maybe we could resign an excellent rim protector and pick and roll partner for Rondo at a reasonable price.
Or, if Jordan began to live up to his potential with Boston being motivated by the Celtic mystique then we still had an opportunity to resign one of the most athletic big men in the league.
Win for Garnett. Win for the Celtics.
Of course, the caveat is Garnett would have had to waive his no trade clause but we already knew that.
I was also a proponent of the deal when it resurfaced a few months later for the same reasons cited above.
I love Doc but he had one foot at the door at the time and Pierce could go back to play in his home town for one more championship run with Garnett after the Celtics bought out his contract at the end of last season.
Now, if as reported, the deciding factor was over one extra measly first round draft pick, even without Bledsoe, Danny Ainge should have pulled the trigger before David Stern had the opportunity to step in just to take a chance on Jordan during the rebuild.
After all, how many late first round draft picks develop into something important in the league.
Not many, and as the Chris Johnson deal demonstrates, there are other ways to find capable role players at a reduced price.
Of course, very soon thereafter, David Stern stepped in and disallowed the trade saying it was a violation of league rules.
Still, with the undersized Celtics it's interesting to think what might have been, especially with the way Jordan is playing, had this deal come to fruition.
Follow Clint on Twitter @ClintCorey Clint Corey 2/13/2014 02:02:00 PM Tweet Edit