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Doc Decision Coming This Summer

doc1.jpgOne of the biggest decisions the Celtics need to make this offseason is what to do with Doc Rivers. He is in the last year of his contract and he wants an extension this summer. I had considered writing an article on this subject but then I discovered this article by Scott Souza where he covers all the bases that I would have. It is a very good read so I'll just quote most of the article.

Rivers has certainly come under fire during his tenure in Boston. Even during the best of times, which in his case was an Atlantic Division title and first-round playoff loss to the Pacers in his first season, his game management was criticized. Since then, the team will have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and endured the worst losing streak in franchise history.

But the qualifier for Rivers and his scattered supporters has been that he was secure enough to allow the franchise to embark on a plan that was destined for short-term struggles in search of long-term gains. For Rivers, the decision not to re-sign Antoine Walker and Gary Payton after the 2005 season was a tacit acknowledgement that the franchise had to take another step back before it hoped to step forward, and the coach's willingness to go along with that made him immune from the consequences of such a course.

This seems to be a fair outline of the cases for and against him. Critics need to remember the situation he's in currently and defenders need to recall the lack of production in year's past.

He goes on to outline how the youth and injuries have given Doc a free pass for the last two years. In addition he makes note of the development that has occured under his watch:

While last summer's hope was based almost solely on the premise that the young players would show incremental improvement, this summer he can point to Al Jefferson going from an injury-prone, slightly-out-of-condition project to legitimately being one of the best young big men in the NBA. He can point to Gerald Green going from bleeding-steak raw his rookie year to accomplished scorer with a ceiling that seems as high as ever. He can point to Rajon Rondo as a point guard he has shown signs of helping develop. He can point to Ryan Gomes and Delonte West as later picks who can be projected as significant NBA contributors as starters or key reserves on a playoff team.

You may not credit Rivers with any of this development, but he surely credits himself with some of it, and an objective view has to give him credit for a share of it if it continues to evolve.

Personally I give Doc credit for creating an environment where the players can prosper. Some locker rooms fracture under the pressure of two years in the lottery. This one has not. On the other hand, what would have happened if there wasn't that trade sending away all the questionable attitude guys from last year's team?

Finally, Souza outlines some potential outcomes:

Whether it will be enough to bring Rivers back for a fourth season is unclear. Danny Ainge has stood firmly behind him, while ownership has voiced its support with the curious caveat that he is the best option for the maturation of a young team that isn't yet ready to contend for a title.

Going forward, the key may be Rivers' own faith in his ability to move the process ahead. If he is content to add another piece or two this summer and head into the final year of his contract looking to prove he is the man that will eventually have this team back playing in June, then the bet is he is given that chance. He may even be able to work out the safety net of a short-term extension to alleviate the aura of a lame-duck season.

But if one of the highest-paid coaches in the league seeks a long-term extension at a similar rate, either out of a sincere desire to stay or to test ownership's dedication to him as a coach, then the guess is the management group doesn't blink.

I have to agree. It seems to be up to Doc. If he holds out for a long term contract (or can find a better deal with a broadcasting job) then I don't think he'll be here next year. I don't think the ownership will give him any more than a short term "thanks for being a good soldier while we rebuild" deal.