If you’ve been following the rumor mill lately, you’re probably aware of the frenzy that a potential blockbuster trade between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers has caused, momentarily even overshadowing the NBA Finals. But before Boston and LA engaged in negotiations, Josh Kroenke made a call the Celtics, offering a first-round pick for the release of Doc Rivers.
Shortly after firing George Karl, the Denver Nuggets offered the Boston Celtics a first-round draft pick as compensation to pry coach Doc Rivers out of his contract, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke made a bid forRivers approximately 10 days ago, informing general manager Danny Ainge of his willingness to part with a pick if the Nuggets were able to procure Rivers.
Nevertheless, Boston wasn’t prepared to start the process of letting Rivers leave, and discussions never went beyond one brief conversation between Kroenke and Ainge, league sources said.
There were no rumors of this conversation happening, as it seems to have been more of a courtesy call, with Ainge making it clear that he was not interested. Since then, Kroenke and Denver’s new GM Tim Connelly have proceeded to explore other options and interviewed Lionel Hollins and Brian Shaw. While Woj is reporting that Hollins and Shaw have left strong impressions, should the Nuggets perhaps revisit the possibility of landing Doc?
A lot has changed in the last 10 days. Rivers has gone from possibly returning to coach the Celtics to pretty much completely burning that bridge. The NBA sniffed out the blockbuster deal between the Clippers and the Celtics, and as it turns out it violates the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Unless the two teams completely change the framework of the deal, it looks like getting it approved by the league will be a challenge to say the least.
Current reports are indicating that the Clippers don’t want to offer any kind of compensation for the release of Rivers. Sure, this could be a bargaining strategy, a virtual cloak to somehow disguise the true intentions of the deal, in an attempt to get this trade done in the coming months. Or it could also be that the deal is truly falling apart, Rivers has burned his bridge with Boston, and the Celtics will look for any compensation they can get and try to release him.
If that is the case, the Nuggets are clearly willing to offer a first-round pick for Doc’s services. Granted it’s a long shot, Josh should definitely place another call and see whether things have changed.
Now, for the Nuggets to land Rivers, he would have to want to coach Denver, which is by all means no certainty.
First and foremost, Rivers doesn’t want to coach a rebuilding roster, and the Nuggets could be an interesting option. Denver has a roster capable of title contention, but there is a conspicuous difference between being a championship contender in a very tough Western Conference and actually being a top-tier team that one of the better coaches in the league wants to work with.
From the Nuggets’ perspective, Rivers would be a great option. Neither Hollins nor Shaw really blow my mind, both for different reasons that I won’t go into right now. But Doc is in the top echelon of head coaches in the league and if there is even a glimmer of hope of convincing him to coach this Denver team, Kroenke should be pushing as hard as he can.
Rivers is perhaps not as great of a defensive coach as some make him out to be — having outstanding and overqualified assistants such as Tom Thibodeau certainly helps your case when you are setting up your defensive schemes. But Doc has that aura around him. He is great with managing personalities, building camaraderie and just gluing a team together. He is also one of the best in the league when it comes to in-game adjustments, and that is a very underrated quality in a head coach. Most importantly, Rivers is one of the few individuals who can actually attract talent as a coach, as he is well-respected and many players, provided the right opportunity, would love to play for him.
Giving up a future first-round draft pick, especially if it’s in a stacked class such as 2014, is obviously a big price to pay just to sign a head coach, particularly when you have competent candidates lining up to sign with you anyway. Even if it’s not a lottery pick, you can still find very talented players in the first round, with Kenneth Faried being a perfect example. It’s borderline impossible that Rivers ends up in Denver next season, but if Kroenke and Co. have an opportunity to make it happen, they definitely should.
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