- Chris Forsberg, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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What? You really thought that, after eight days of utter chaos just for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers to reach an agreement in principle in this Doc Rivers drama, we'd cross the finish line without a hitch?
Nope. Another day, another head-shaking batch of delays before the Celtics could hold a formal farewell news conference for Rivers.
The Celtics originally called a potential debriefing on Friday at noon, but that was quickly scrapped, opening a 72-hour window in which the teams finally hammered out a deal, the Clippers sending an unprotected 2015 draft pick as compensation for Rivers. A source told ESPN on Monday that the league is not holding up the proposed swap, but it appeared that the language in Rivers' new contract with the Clippers might be contributing to the latest delay.
When we eventually do get a news conference, here are a few of the questions and topics that should gain more clarity:
* Doc's decision: Rivers, silent since Boston's playoff ouster on May 3, is expected to break his public silence and, for the first time, he'll be able to explain the process by which he ultimately elected not to return to the Celtics. This mess of a process has left some Boston fans bitter at Rivers, believing he hopped the Ubuntu ship (with three years left on his contract) to avoid rocky rebuilding waters and chase a title out west. While his departure has eased some of the venom and fans maybe turned a bit nostalgic once a deal was in place, Rivers will get his first real chance to explain what ultimately led to him heading out west.
* Finally, finality: For roughly seven weeks, the Celtics have been in this twilight zone of uncertainty. The only thing certain about this offseason was supposed to be Rivers' return. And Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was adamant that Rivers would return in mid-May, only for that plan to derail in June. The first domino has fallen for Boston now with Rivers' departure and the team can finally proceed with a plan aimed at rebuilding. But plenty of questions linger, most notably:
* Who's the next coach? The assumption is that, having parted ways with the league's highest-paid coach, the Celtics will target a low-cost helmsman who will likely oversee the impending roster overhaul. Brian Shaw is bound for the Denver Nuggets, so he's out of the running. The Celtics showed interest in Lionel Hollins as a potential Rivers assistant back in 2004 when he first arrived in Boston, which could put Hollins back on Ainge's radar. But if the team desires to go with a younger (read: less expensive coach), you wonder if someone like Miami assistant David Fizdale -- a former college point guard, who has a reputation as a masterful communicator, offering shades of the departed Rivers -- might draw some consideration as the Heat celebrate their second consecutive title. And, for the sentimental type, Antoine Walker did throw his hat in the ring via Twitter, but it might help his cause to change his background image from a trophy-hugging photo from his Miami days.
* Speaking of coaches ... Rivers' top assistant, Mike Longabardi, already took a similar position with the Phoenix Suns, joining the staff of first-year coach Jeff Hornacek (and reuniting with first-year general manager Ryan McDonough). Will Rivers be taking some of his other assistants out west, like Kevin Eastman and Ty Lue? Much of Rivers' staff will soon be free agents and it will be interesting to see if any portion is retained for the next administration to help ease the transition process.
* Parting with Pierce? If the Celtics elect to go for a full-blown rebuild, it would seemingly be in their best interest to part with a veteran core, and that would include captain Paul Pierce. League sources indicated earlier this week that the Celtics desire to land a first-round pick for Pierce's services, while multiple reports have suggested the under-the-cap Cleveland Cavaliers might consider bringing on Pierce for a couple second-round picks. What seems less likely is the Celtics' eating the $5 million guaranteed on Pierce's contract by June 30 just to avoid the full $15.3 million cap hit that looms for next season. Though it could provide luxury-tax relief should Boston struggle to trim cap clog, Pierce still has immense value, particularly to a contender -- and maybe more so if the Celtics can keep him here until the February trade deadline, but they'd have to pitch him on being part of the overhaul. If nothing else, as an expiring deal, Pierce has value to the future-minded Celtics.
* And what about KG? Kevin Garnett's name was in the initial iteration of the Celtics-Clippers talks with a proposed swap that would have brought DeAndre Jordan to Boston. Does Garnett desire to stay in Boston without Rivers? More importantly, can the 37-year-old stomach the idea of a potential rebuild in what could be his final NBA season (he's under contract for two more, but the final year is only partially guaranteed). It would seem that, like Pierce, the Celtics would be in position to move Garnett for a future asset, yet his no-trade clause makes that slightly more difficult.
Doc Rivers' goodbye will hopefully shed some light on what's next for Boston.