Doc Rivers knows about saying goodbye to a star player. - Jared Wickerham
Doc Rivers knows all about losing a high-profile player to free agency. He went through the same ordeal last July.
Doc Rivers has been coaching the Celtics for nine years, which means that for nine years, he's been a member of the Boston coaching fraternity alongside Patriots head honcho Bill Belichick. That being the case, Rivers sympathized with Belichick today upon hearing the news that the Pats had lost free agent Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos.
How could he not? Rivers recently lost a high-profile free agent of his own in Ray Allen, so he knows as well as anyone the difficulties of keeping a team together.
"It's hard to do it," Rivers said tonight. "We lost Ray, it feels like, the same way they lost Wes. You wanted him, and you did everything you could, and yet somehow they go somewhere else. Just like we wanted Ray to stay, I know they wanted to keep Wes to stay. Sometimes it just doesn't work out."
The situation is a little different with Welker, money-wise at least. Allen received a lowball offer from the Miami Heat, financially speaking -- for cap reasons, Pat Riley was only able to offer Allen two years at $6 million, while the Celtics offered twice that.
In the Welker scenario, the Patriots were the ones doing the lowballing, offering less than the two years and $12 million that the wideout got from Denver.
Regardless, Rivers argued, the challenges of maintaining team chemistry are just too tough once the offseason rolls around.
"There's too many other people involved," the Celtics' coach said. "Once everyone's signed, it's just the coaches and the players, and no one can get in the way. But once you get into free agency, a lot of other people get involved, and it's outside of winning and losing. I guess that's why they call it free agency."