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Can Doc Be The Next Sam Mitchell?

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MitchellIt appears that Sam Mitchell will win Coach of the Year. This is remarkable for anyone that remembers how bad his reputation was a year ago. Consider this quote from the National Post (hat tip TrueHoop):

It was a little more than a year ago that a Sports Illustrated poll of 248 NBA players named Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell the worst coach in the league. But Tuesday, National Basketball Association sources have confirmed Mitchell will be named the NBA's coach of the year.

First of all, I'd like to see that poll done again this year. Considering Doc's reputation as a players coach, I doubt he'd rank high, but it would just be fun to see the names tossed under the bus again.

All of this begs the question, will Doc be the next rags to riches story? It sure seems like Wyc, Danny, and the rest of the Celtics think so. They don't even need more proof, they are willing to do what the Raptors were not willing to do last season, give the coach an extension on his expiring contract.

I know we've beat this topic to death, but it still hasn't been resolved and it is one of the main events of the summer, so we'll probably continue to talk about it. Nothing new here, but I did like the way Tim Weisberg summed up the situation with Doc.

It's no secret that the media loves Doc Rivers as a person. He's genial, honest and, quite frankly, a quote machine. But in terms of job assessment, he hasn't gotten it done. No coach should ever lose 18 games in a row, period. Questionable rotations, lack of defined roles and a penchant for yelling at his players from the sidelines are the common citations from Doc detractors.

However, the fact that this team continued to play hard every night despite their misfortune, and that no player said a single incendiary word about Rivers, is part of the reason why the Celtics will give him at least a one-year extension on his contract. Doc worked hard to get the C's where they are, and he deserves to be at the helm next season. But beyond that? Let's see what he can do when there are no excuses left.

We'll see what Wyc wants to do with Doc. He is going to get some kind of extension, so he won't coach as a lame duck like Mitchell did (not that it hurt him at all).  If he gives him a one year extension, you know the leash will be short if things don't go right. If he gets multiple years, that still doesn't insure Doc's job, it just makes it harder to cut ties. Coaching salaries don't go against the cap, just the bottom line. So if Wyc wants to give him a 20 year extension and cut him after 1 or 2 years, its his money (yes, I know it will be paid for by raising hot dog prices, but it isn't like they won't raise the price anyway). On the other hand, they might not be too eager to pay dead money to a fired coach if the replacement isn't an absolute slam-dunk upgrade.

Regardless, Doc will be back next year and we'll see what he can do. Since his fate is tied to the Celtics, I'm going to be rooting for him to find lightning in a bottle like Mitchell did and turn things around for this team. Mitchell was able to enjoy a major roster makeover that simiply has more talent and the ability to make any coach look good. But he gets credit for steering the ship properly and getting the star player to buy in. In a similar way, Doc could benefit from a much improved and much healthier roster next year (especially with a top pick and/or a big trade). He is already on the player's good side, in particular Pierce, so if the team improves a lot, he'll get a lot of credit. Doc has won Coach of the Year once already, maybe he can do it again!  Stranger things have happened.

Like I said, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.