After Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat last summer, the blowback was swift from Boston to L.A. In the aftermath of his decision, Allen was portrayed as a traitor by players and fans. Celtics fans have probably gotten a degree of satisfaction out of watching Steph Curry, and now Danny Green, lay siege to his three-point shooting records.
Prior to the season opener against Miami, Rivers was a little more civil when asked about his fractured relationship with Allen, but still critical.
“I tried to call him. After the year we talked fine. Then when free agency started, Ray didn’t return Danny’s calls or my calls, so I stopped trying,” Rivers said last October. “If you’ve been here for five years and I have to call you every 10 seconds in free agency, you probably don’t want to be here.”
Ironically, less than one year later, what Rivers is doing may be worse. The criticism for the Rivers hostage crisis has been largely muted. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Kevin Garnett acknowledges Ray Allen the next time they meet in the regular season.
We criticize superstar players such as LeBron James and Allen for linking up with friends in a large market locale, but that is exactly what Rivers is orchestrating.
Before the Finals, comments by Allen infuriated fans that tacked on the dreaded title-chaser label to his Hall of Fame résumé.
“When we sat down and we talked about it, we being my family and the people that supported me over my life, we talked about being selfish and giving ourselves the best opportunity to win,” Allen told Sporting News. “We wanted to win, we didn’t want to be in a situation where we were going to struggle.”
Hmmm…sounds eerily familiar.
A flurry of reports have disclosed murky details of a potential megadeal involving Rivers that would send Kevin Garnett and friends on a cross country road trip to L.A. in exchange for center DeAndre Jordan, possibly Eric Bledsoe and a first-round pick.
Big Threes are outdated. Rajon Rondo’s Connect-Four compulsion doesn’t hold a candle to the Chris Paul, Paul Pierce (who may be brought out), Dwight Howard/Blake Griffin and K.G. faction that Rivers may assemble in Clipperland.
Rivers made a stink of Allen’s free agency relocation, but the paucity of an outcry over Rivers trying to wiggle out of his Celtics contract is a reflection of the free pass coaches receive. Unlike Allen, Rivers has a long career ahead of him, but wants no part of a rebuilding era – even if he is pocketing $7 million a year. This is essentially the coaches equivalent of a trade request.
I'm not hating. Doc put in undergrad work at Marquette, conducted a 13-year residency as a journeyman NBA guard, and did his attending as Orlando Magic head coach for four seasons.
It’s practical for Rivers to latch onto Garnett, because in many ways, he saved his career. Prior to the summer of 2007, the O.J. jury’s judgment was more trusted than Rivers’ coaching strategies. Many Celtics fans wanted Danny Ainge to replace Rivers on the bench once they drafted Durant or Oden. However, Ainge stayed loyal to Rivers through an 18-game losing streak and rewarded him with the Big Three.
Six years later, Rivers is untouchable, but the sentiment isn’t being reciprocated. Roaring admiration has drowned out the “Fire Doc!” chants, and two years ago, he signed a seven-year, $35 million that includes a no-compete clause. Essentially, that means he shouldn’t be able to replicate Riley’s treacherous act of resigning as Knicks coach after Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing’s bodies began breaking down.
The perception of Rivers isn’t that he’s a title chaser. It’s that he’s being smart and industrious. This is just the beginning of his career as a concierge hoops doctor making house calls for franchises with deep pockets and a wealth of talent readily available. Pat the Rat, meet the concierge coach.