Should Denver Nuggets Continue Pushing For Doc Rivers?

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.

(via Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo)

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.

You can follow me on Twitter: @VytisLasaitis

  • Native Nugget

    My fear is that the Nuggs are turning into a reactive organization and not a proactive one. I have a hard time believing they will “go after” anyone. After watching them wait to sign Igoudala, wait to sign Masai, wait to sign D’alessandro, – now I’m hearing they will “do things at their own pace”. I expect they will wait until two of their three top candidates are signed by teams that know how to take action and THEN they spring into action to secure who ever is left on the table (just as they did with Conelly).

    • Scott

      Technically speaking they haven’t waited to sign Iggy, because free agency hasn’t even begun yet and he just recently announced opting out, but I understand what you are saying.
      Also, couldn’t this be a good thing waiting a small bit? Its unlikely we draw in a superstar anyway and we do not have any glaring spots in the starting lineup or rotation that needs solving, so wouldn’t it be good for all the other teams to be focused on the CP3s and D12s of free agency while we can try and sign mid-level quality free agents?

      • Native Nugget

        True enough on Iggy. He was unlikely to scrap his current deal and sign a new deal before he tested free agency. Still, I would have like to have heard that our front office offered him a deal worth considering BEFORE he goes out and bids up the price tag.

        I don’t mind waiting on free agents and I have nothing against having patience when it’s needed. I’m just starting to wonder if this is an organization that can’t pull the trigger. Masai was their first choice but they waited to get a deal done, then D’Alessandro was their next first choice but they waited to make him an offer, only to lose both. It’s too soon to tell but I think it’s fair to wonder. Do they already have a first choice amongst coaching candidates but are hesitating? If they wait until two of their top three choices for coach are swooped up and then sign the remaining choice, my perception will change for “wait and see” to “crap weave got an aim-aim-aim- aim-pick-through-the-leftovers-without-ever-pulling-the-trigger organization on our hands”.

        • Native Nugget

          Not that anyone will ever go back and read these posts… but after hiring Shaw I officially retract my concerns. They picked the man they thought best for the job and went after him. Nice work.

  • ryanvdonk

    add andre miller to that first rounder immediately!

  • Len Nunes

    you would hope a coach is in place by the draft in a few days, with so much versatility(redundancy) on the roster, you would think a coach’s imput would be important

    • pgwarner

      Not really. Unless you have a powerful coach then they have little to no input.

      • Len Nunes

        love or hate Karl he did things with his own spin. I’m afraid the new look front office will enter free agency and sign players that don’t mesh with the incoming coach which therefore makes the guy a puppet or fall guy.

        With Iggy on the outs, Gallo out til Christmas, this “deep” team just looks “young & talented” which translated means “1st round exit”

  • pgwarner

    Well now, since Rivers is like a $7 miliion a year coach it puts all the “The Kroenkes are cheap bastards” talk into crap bin where it belongs. The dude will be serious dollars no matter where he goes.

  • Dinosaur Dave

    I think a better option would be to make a move for a better veteran player than Andre Miller. You all saw what happened when Chauncey Billups was here – WCF taking it to the Lakers.

    I appreciate who Andre Miller is as a player, but I’m not sure that he’s the vocal leader who rallies the troops. If we could pick up a guy like Shane Battier for example, who knows the game, knows their role and works hard, I think that is far more important to the team’s success than giving up a potentially good player/pick for a coach. Especially when there are other good options available.

  • airvaid

    I wonder how you counter when the whole city is calling you cheap? Oh you put out a rumor that you tried to pay a coach 7M a year but you couldn’t make it happen.
    “See we tried to pay big money for a deal that was never gonna happen”