When Doc Rivers signed his five-year extension with the Celtics, the joke was that he only came back for a chance to coach his son.
Not that it was a particularly funny joke, but at the time it was funnier than it was realistic. Back then (waaay back in May 2011), the Celtics were perennial contenders who hadn't drafted higher than No. 19 since the Big 3 came together. Meanwhile, Rivers was considered a potential Top 5 pick; a lottery pick at the very, very least.
Austin Rivers to the Celtics? Interesting conspiracy. But not happening.
Or so we thought.
And still we think, but since last May things have slightly changed. Not so much for the Celtics who, if the season ended today, would have the 17th and 24th (from LAC) picks in the draft. But more on Rivers' end.
After an uneven season at Duke, one that left many scouts hoping he'd head back for another year, some experts predict that Rivers will not only fall out of the lottery but might even be available when the Celtics are on the clock.
Last week, in his first Mock Draft for ESPN.com (Insider Only), Chad Ford actually has the Celtics passing over Rivers at No. 17 for Kentucky's Terrence Jones. He has Austin going to Houston with the 21st pick.
Now obviously that's all insanely premature, as so much can and will change as far as where teams draft. And obviously Rivers will have a ton of individual workouts and interviews that may alter his standing. Not to mention, Chad Ford isn't an NBA GM.
Still, now more than ever, there exists a possibility that the Celtics will be on the clock this June, with Austin Rivers still sitting in the green room. He's a scoring two-guard. And while he may be undersized for the NBA position, that's a place where the Celtics (assuming Ray Allen heads elsewhere) could use some help. So what do you think?
We joked about Doc Rivers having a chance to coach his son, but what if that chance actually presents itself? Would the Celtics pull the trigger? Maybe trade Avery Bradley and start billing Rivers and Rondo as the back court of the future? Or is that just inviting all sorts of unnecessary controversy to a situation that already has its fair share?
Personally, I'm still not convinced these draft picks will even stay with the Celtics. At the very least, I don't expect them to make both picks. I mean, what will Doc do if the Celtics add TWO more rookies to next year's roster? Isn't that his worst nightmare? Asking Doc to work with rookies is like asking Superman to work with kryptonite, and if that's the case heading into next year's training camp, Doc might go insane.
This is a guy who's down to a seven-man rotation, has an aging core that needs to stay healthy and rested for the playoffs, yet still refuses to give JaJuan Johnson a shot. Last month, Johnson played 33 minutes against the Bulls that's Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, one of the strongest front courts in the league and completely held his own. He had 12 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. And more importantly, the Celtics won. Now he can't get off the bench?
The same thing happened earlier this season with Greg Stiemsma. He started playing really well (we're talking relatively, of course). He was the biggest surprise of the early part of the season. Then suddenly he falls out of the rotation. He didn't even play himself out of it (at least not in games). Then a few weeks ago, he gets another chance, and goes back to doing the exact same thing that he was at the beginning of the year. Now everyone's like, "Wow, look at Stiemsma coming on strong! He's really turned himself into a pro." But the truth is that he had this in him all along, he was just buried. The same way Johnson is now.
That's why I think it's far more likely that at least one of those picks are traded away as a piece in a bigger deal by Danny Ainge. But I guess that doesn't answer my original question:
What happens if the Celtics are on the clock, and Austin Rivers is still available? If instead of having to frantically fly around on off-days in order to catch his son's games (like he's done the past few years), Doc has the chance to coach his son every single day? IN THE NBA.
I'm sure it's a decision that Doc will have to wrestle with. Whether or not he's ever actively pushed for Austin to end up in Boston, I'm sure it's something he's considered, even dreamed about. How could he not?
But in the end, I don't see how he lets that dream get in the way of Celtics basketball. Especially when you consider how overly sensitive everyone would be about the motivation behind bringing his son on board. If Rivers does somehow end up on the Celtics, it will have to be for the right reasons. And the bigger issue is: Do those right reasons exist?
Is there anyway bringing on an undersized scorer like Austin Rivers is more essential than drafting an athletic power forward like Jones or a legitimate center?
I doubt it. Which is why I, and most people still highly doubt, there will be a Rivers family reunion at next season at the Garden.
Or that if there is, the younger Rivers will be wearing the wrong jersey.