NBA Analysis: Is This Doc Rivers' Last Stand with Celtics?

| by
Marc Stein (ESPN.com) wrote a column a couple of days ago and briefly touched some teams with coaches at the end of their contracts - one of which was the Boston Celtics.

..."countless coaching insiders believe that Rivers will be taking no less than a one-year hiatus at season's end. No matter what happens in the playoffs ... Word is Doc is determined to free himself up to see his Duke-bound son, Austin, after work commitments prevented him from watching his other three children as much as he wanted to see them compete in various sports."

Now we all know how amazing Doc Rivers has been and still is. Allow yourself to drift back to 2004 when he was hired as the Celtics head coach after spending a year working as a commentator for NBA on ABC. He's arguably one of the few point persons in the league who in just a few years has transformed his image from one that was full of criticism (during his first years with the Cs) to one of the NBA's inner circle of elite coaches.

Credit might be given to the coming together of The Big Three (Garnett, Allen and Pierce) in 2007 for enabling Doc to skyrocket his coaching status from zero to hero. But as you already know, mere hype and talent normally doesn't imply that a team's already going to win a championship. There's obviously the issue of egos exploding and how the bench is going to fit in a superstar mix. And then there are other intangibles.

We owe it a lot to Rivers for integrating the team philosophy of Ubuntu right from the get go and transforming Boston into a selfless team with players whose main concern is not to rack up the stat sheet and improve their public self image every night, but whose one and only goal is to win games - make the playoffs - win games - make the finals - win games and win the title ... all together. Amazing. A lot can really be accomplished if nobody cares who gets the credit, as long as everybody wins.
Early in 2009, the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett to an injury but Doc made them believe they could still win the title without their prime defensive anchor. The mindset was enough to have the team advance in the second round and push the Magic to the brink of elimination.

In 2010, Rivers handled a depleted roster filled with injuries, illness and other personal matters. Met with criticism that they no longer had what it takes to win, Doc courageously shifted his priorities to health versus having a better record. The result at the end of the regular season was ugly, but their playoff ride was definitely a run to remember.

This year, we're seeing Doc do his juggling act again with the new-look Celtics. Time is of the essence and there are a lot of variables involved in this year's run and we're bound to see another exemplary effort from Marquette's finest come playoff time.

Everybody loves a great coach and that's why Doc's return this season was instrumental in the regrouping of the Boston Celtics. But as the regular season comes to a close and enters "the real season", there are two questions that are conspicuously tucked under every Celtic fan's pocket:

1. Are we actually a witness to Doc Rivers' last season with the Boston Celtics? and if ever ...
2. Who's going to replace him as head coach?
The answers to these questions of course may have a bearing on the outcome of this year's postseason for the Green and White. Everyone's eyeing the veteran trio for one last run together and if ever they do satisfy that longing - is it enough for Doc to finally call it quits?
Stein mentioned in his column the possiblity of having assistant coach Lawrence Frank take over the reins. Another option is Danny Ainge's longtime teammate, Kevin McHale. Then there are insiders that say that DA has been prepared for this kind of scenario since last year and he's got a couple of secret candidates already in mind.
Danny and Doc naturally would focus more on the opportunity at hand - of successfully bringing home Banner 18. The aftermath however, regardless of the result, would definitely be interesting.