Ainge: Despite C's troubles, Rivers' job is very safe

971259.jpg

Ainge: Despite C's troubles, Rivers' job is very safe

LOS ANGELES Not even a month into the NBA season and the Los Angeles Lakers kicked Mike Brown - a former NBA coach of the Year in 2009 with a winning percentage better than 65 percent - to the curb.

Avery Johnson, who was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for October and November, was fired by the Brooklyn Nets.

Both were fired for, among other things, underperforming.

About a third of the season has been completed, and it's clear that the Celtics (14-14) fall into that category.

But don't look for the C's to make any kind of radical changes anytime soon.

"Doc (Rivers) has proven his worth as a coach," Danny Ainge, Boston's President of Basketball Operations, told CSNNE.com. "There's nobody I want more to coach my team, than Doc Rivers."

Like most NBA observers, Ainge is well aware of the quick-to-hire, quick-to-fire mentality that has pervaded many NBA franchises in recent years.

"First of all, every situation is different," Ainge said. "There's so much information that no one knows, and really information that never gets public and a lot of misinformation that does get public depending on who is giving the information or which side is telling the story. I don't think anyone gives up on coaches this fast without there being a feeling that there's not a long term solution or they're just not compatible; coaching staff with owners and management. It's a very hard dynamic, the world of professional sports.

Ainge added, "One thing I've learned in this business is patience is a virtue. That's one of the reasons why I love Doc. Because when things aren't going well, there's no one I want in my corner more. Anybody can put on a smiley face and come to work with energy and enthusiasm and passion when you're winning. But it takes a special person to do it with an 18, 19-game losing streak with a bunch of young players and to still have that respect and work ethic before we were able to put a great team together and obviously, have some success."

Still, that doesn't fully soothe the pain that many in Celtics Nation are feeling right now when they see a team that was built to compete for one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference.

So far this season, the Celtics look more like a team trying to fight their way into the playoffs.

Ainge will be the first to acknowledge that the C's aren't performing nearly as well as he or anyone within the organization expected.

And while it has taken longer for this team to get on the same page than he would have liked, by no means have the C's struggles been solely the fault of Rivers.

"When the team isn't winning, that's just as much my fault as it is Doc's fault," Ainge said. "We're in this together, with the success and the failure of the team. A lot of times, players aren't doing their part. Sometimes it's the coaches not doing their part. Sometimes it's me not doing my part, and my staff. We have to evaluate all of it and find the real reasons why the team isn't performing to our standards and try to make the best of it."

Rivers speaks candidly about where the Celtics are right now, showing no signs of wavering on his belief that this team will eventually start stringing together wins and eventually develop into the kind of team that can at least compete with the elite teams in the East.

"The NBA is a league of ebbs and flows," Rivers said. "That's just the way it is. You go on good streaks, you go on bad ones and you hope you right the ship and go back on a good one."

And when that turn-around does come about, it won't necessarily be the work of one or two men, either.

"To have unity at ownership level, at management level and coaching level is critical when you're trying to build winning teams," Ainge said. "I like what we have. But sometimes at some places, it's just not there. I just think that these things (head coaches getting fired quickly) happen in sports, and they always will."

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

With the Bills 0-2 and sinking slowly in a morass of dysfunction last week, Rex Ryan was anything but his corny, wise-cracking, false-bravado-bringing self. He was subdued before the Bills took on the Cardinals.

Now, with the Bills having spanked Arizona and the Patriots up next, Rex is back at it with the erratic, putting forth an eyebrow-raisingly bad Bill Belichick impersonation to start the week then parachuting into a conference call with Julian Edelman posing as a Buffalo News reporter.

He’s the guy at the house party knocking over the chips and drinks at 9 p.m. and wondering where the motherscratching karaoke machine is because he wants to SING!!

Asked to account for the behavior change from last week to this, Rex’ verbatim response was a look into his addled mind.

“I was still myself, I think just part of it. This week, look guys, we know who we’re playing. When you look at the ESPN deal, I think they’re ranked number one---I don’t know. Like I said, they’re number two, but I don’t think we’re ranked number one so---look, we know the task is going to be a big one. The quarterback thing, yeah you got to be prepared and you actually have to be prepared for three different guys. They’re no dummies, they’re leaving it out there, they can know who it is, I get it. They’re certainly not going to do us any favors.”

Give that a quick re-read.

My verbal syntax and wandering trains of thought aren’t evidence of an ordered mind either, so I do empathize with Rex. But neither am I the head coach of one of 32 entries in the NFL, a pretty high-profile league in which an ordered presentation from the guy in charge is usually a positive.

I spoke at length with Tim Graham – who really does work for the Buffalo News – during our Quick Slants Podcast this week.

Rex’ constant insistence on his own authenticity feels to me like a misdirection. He chooses who he’s going to be and how he’s going to be each week. That’s the only consistent thing about him, other than the fact that he is an eminently likable guy specifically because he is so vulnerable.

 For a guy that wants to projecting an image of a guy who just doesn’t give a s***, he spends a lot of time thinking about this stuff.  

“I learned a long time ago, you got to be yourself in this league and that [acting like Bill Belichick] wouldn’t have worked,” Ryan explained. “If I tried to be like Bill Belichick that would never work for me, just like, not that he ever would, but if he’s going to try to be like somebody else, that ain’t going to work for him. And so, at least one thing we have in common is the fact that we know you better be yourself in this league and look, I think it’s hilarious when he’s on there because that’s who he is but it’s great and he does it better than anybody else. Some guys that try to copy that style, they’re phonies. Belichick does it, that’s who he is. [Gregg] Popovich is probably the closest thing in the NBA. Like those guys are classics but that’s who they are and they’re fantastic and I think the record speaks for itself but you talk about a consistent guy, Bill Belichick is the most consistent guy there is and I try to be consistent, albeit in a much different way.”

Consistent in his inconsistency. Great fun at parties. No way to go through life as an NFL head coach.

 

Patriots have perfect attendance at Thursday walkthrough

bill-belichick-patriots-practice-072916.jpg

Patriots have perfect attendance at Thursday walkthrough

FOXBORO -- The Patriots opted to have a walkthrough on Thursday, an in-season rarity for Bill Belichick's club. 

The low-key session makes sense, though. Because the team practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, it will still have two practices under its belt, as it usually does every week. Now, instead of having just one walkthrough on a Friday, as the Patriots do typically, they'll have had two. 

All players were present for the on-the-field work, including quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Members of the media were only able to watch the team walk onto the field, and they were treated to a fashion show of sorts. Bill Belichick stood out with his hooded sweatshirt, as did Jamie Collins, who for some reason wore plastic bags around his gloves. Practice squad defensive lineman Geneo Grissom brought a bit of a business casual look to the field, sporting a collared shirt under his sweatshirt.