Sunday June 23, 2013

If somebody had a wooden stake and a hammer, I'd put an end to the story that just won't die -- Doc Rivers to the Clippers.

Either Los Angeles can't decide whether to make this move, or Danny Ainge wants too much, or maybe Doc himself has second thoughts. Doesn't matter. This story needs to end.

Rivers is considered one of the NBA's best coaches, and if you don't believe that, just look at what he has done with the Celtics in his tenure.

Ainge might have put together the first "Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, but how Doc kept the Celtics afloat during the numerous times that the three weren't on the court together was nothing short of spectacular.

Tackling the issues in order, holding up this deal makes no sense if you're a Clippers fan.

Of all the available coaches out there, guys with or without an NBA history, who is better than Doc Rivers? Does Lionel Hollins or Brian Shaw have a ring as a head coach? Does George Karl have a ring as a coach?

Besides, if you're the Clippers, your best player wants Doc. Chris Paul is in Rivers' corner, and that has to be part of the equation.

It's one of the more distasteful parts of NBA life that players can dictate who coaches a team. You think Mike D'Antoni would be out of New York if Carmelo Anthony really wanted him to stay? Mike Brown with the Lakers? Kobe Bryant's fingerprints were all over that.


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And then, go back to the beginning, when Magic Johnson helped orchestrate the palace coup that put Paul Westhead in charge of the Lakers.

It's not about right or wrong, because when you're talking about big contracts worth mega-millions, it's just part of the game. Besides, no major pro sport depends more on its stars than the NBA does. No league has been more successful in promoting stars over teams than the NBA.

Is getting a top-shelf coach worth two picks in the first round, and/or a player or two? Ask my hometown Pittsburgh Pirates if it was a bad thing to trade catcher Manny Sanguillen to Oakland for manager Chuck Tanner. All Tanner did was win the last world title in baseball in the Steel City back in 1979.

Now, if you believe some of this talk that Rivers is considering this move so Ainge can more rapidly begin the rebuilding of the Celtics, you are welcome to your opinion. I'm convinced that Rivers doesn't want to go through another rebuilding process.

He got used to winning more than losing, which is what he did a lot of immediately before the Big Three came to Boston. There is no real way Rivers wants to do that again.

Others in the Boston media claim that there is a real rift between Ainge and Rivers, and Doc just wants to get out of town. That's something I don't buy.

There are always rifts between management and the coaching staff -- unless you're in Foxborough, where Bill Belichick is both.

I don't know how this will end. The Celtics originally scheduled a news conference Friday with Rivers and Ainge, but then pushed it off until Monday.

I know these things: 1. If Doc Rivers stays, he will coach his butt off for the Celtics. 2. If Doc Rivers goes, Ainge had better find the next Doc.

But most importantly, I know this story needs to end this week.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.