Perhaps Doc Rivers and his strong-willed character would’ve been the best equipped to confront the challenges the Celtics soon face. But after an acrimonious departure from a franchise he loyally stood by for nine years, Boston is left scrambling for a sideline leader capable of juggling the imminent, tremendous expectations.
To begin, the consensus on why Rivers left Boston was because he chose to not be on board with the C’s next stage of development: a wearying, rebuilding stage. The original “Big 3” are now out of sight and long gone, as well as the basis for this franchise’s image and formula for success. The foundation now rests upon the more youthful shoulders of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and Jeff Green. And with the influx of the likes of Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, and Kris Joseph, the new Celtics coach will have to acknowledge he won’t preside over a contender.
And as daunting as it may seem to progress through a rebuilding stage while in the realm of scrutiny of a needy sports hub, the difficulty for the new Celtics coach will ultimately concentrate in the handling of one player: Rondo.
After much deliberation by Danny Ainge and the Celtics brass, the enigmatic Rajon Rondo has been essentially chosen to permanently guide the team through this new era. Of course, betting on the fickle character of Rondo’s would not be so clear-cut a choice for other franchises, much less a favorable decision. The unique star point guard has to finally stash away his pettiness for good, and must minimize his occasional idleness (Rondo sometimes shrinks during contests that bear less meaning than the classic “Sunday primetime clash”, a time where he’s most known for his fantastical eruptions).
There’s no questioning Rondo has the talent on the court, and the assertive, no-nonsense personality at every other time, to take actively take a leadership role in the C’s locker room. But his comprehensive performance on and off the court must be effectively managed, supervised, and directed by the right coach.
Doc–through his approach towards Rondo–has established himself as the prime overseer of the point guard; despite any recently reported animosity between the two, their relationship appeared productive for the most part. Now, whoever will be the new headman of the Celtics will have to replicate a connection with the star point guard that apparently is hard to come by: coaching Rondo has been reported to be rather difficult.
So what’s the solution in approaching this fragile situation, where rebuilding an esteemed franchise must be properly balanced with carefully incorporating/handling a player like Rondo? Hire Lionel Hollins, the former Grizzlies coach that was inexcusably overlooked by the Memphis organization in not renewing his contract.
During his coaching tenure in Memphis, Hollins made the most out of situations that weren’t necessarily perfect. Despite the Grizzlies organization toughening his job with constant money-saving moves, he effectively squeezed the most out of every player he had at his disposal, utilizing guys like Quincy Pondexter, Jerryd Bayless, and Darrell Arthur to their highest potential. Hollins will certainly not inherit an overflowing amount of talent if he takes the Celtics head coaching position, but his track record shows that in similar situations he will not be out of ideas in making use of each member of his squad.
When Hollins did enter the scene at Memphis as head coach, he did not start out with many resources–similar to the starting point he’ll have with the Celtics, if he does take over the reigns for the 2013 season. Hollins methodically cultivated a contender over his 5-year stint with the Grizzlies: a progression that began with seasons ending in missing the playoffs entirely, eventually grew to advancing to postseason play, culminating in reaching the Western Conference Finals this past season.
But most importantly, of all these “free agent” head coaches on the market, Lionel Hollins seems best fit to institute a sense of authority on the Celtics–an action necessary if he wants to handle Rondo’s peculiar character, and gain crucial respect from the star point guard. It just feels that Hollins and Rondo would click, since as a head coach Hollins will not become too overbearing, while still will maintain a semblance of command and control.
And if to further extend this attempt to simulate Rivers’ special connection to Rondo (once again, for the most part, and especially considering any other HC would lose his head after a day with the point guard), consider this: perhaps their relationship was fostered by the fact that Doc was a respected NBA player himself who sustained a lengthy career. Lionel Hollins would have nearly the exact same background as Rivers did, and therefore could potentially aid relations with Rondo.