Rivers surprises staff, puts assistant in charge of second half


Rivers surprises staff, puts assistant in charge of second half

BOSTON Players aren't the only ones Doc Rivers throws into unexpected scenarios this time of year.

The Boston Celtics coach, to the surprise of many - including his staff - spent the second half of Boston's 97-96 loss to Brooklyn inside the locker room.

Rivers left longtime assistant Armond Hill in charge of the team in his absence.

"He's always said that as much as players are in training camp, so are coaches," Hill said. "And so what would happen if he gets thrown out, we gotta be prepared."

Last season, Rivers was tied with then-Charlotte head coach Paul Silas as the NBA coaching leader in technical fouls, with eight.

Although there was some speculation that Rivers spent the second half watching the presidential debate, it was clear to Hill after the game that Rivers' attention was squarely on the Celtics game.

One of the first things Rivers asked Hill about was his decision to have five guys on the floor down the stretch, but none were point guards.

"But, once I explained that Courtney (Lee) was cramping up a little bit, he understood," Hill said.

Celtics forward Paul Pierce likes the idea of Rivers throwing his assistants into the head coaching seat unexpectedly.

"It's good experience for our assistant coaches," Pierce said. "It might be a case where he gets kicked out of a game. We hope not, but the other guys have to be ready to step up just like the players. There are times when I might foul out; other guys have to be ready."

And Hill is definitely ready.

This will be his ninth season as a Celtics assistant coach. Prior to that, he was an assistant on the Atlanta Hawks staff during the 2003-2004 season. In addition, he spent eight years as a head coach at Columbia University where his 2001-2002 squad led the nation in scoring defense by limiting opponents to just 57 points per game.

A former first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 1976, Hill played eight seasons in the NBA with all but two spent with the Hawks.

And from Hill's perspective, being given a chance by Rivers to coach the Celtics - even if it was for half a game - can do nothing but help him and his coaching career.

"I can only thank Doc for giving me the opportunity to coach," Hill said. "That's what we're all here for. He's taught me and I've been with him and he continues to teach me and he gave me another opportunity tonight."

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Zach Lowe’s most recent podcast is worth a listen, as it features plenty of talk about what the Celtics may or may not due ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Lowe brought up the possibility of the Celtics top-1 or top-2-protecting Brooklyn’s first-round pick and including it in a deal for Butler. He surmises that the inclusion of the Brooklyn pick -- protected or not -- might not come until the final minutes. 

“Look, if Butler gets traded or if Paul George gets traded, that’s when it’s going to happen,” Marc Stein responded. “It’s going to happen in the last five to 10 minutes, so Boston has to make a decision, and let's see if they’re doing the math that they’ve had these assets for a while and it is time to do something bold and the time is now. Really, I think Boston will do it. The question is what will Chicago or Indiana do? And those are two hard reads.” 

Stein spoke to the Celtics’ lack of activity at certain points, but he said that if the C’s do fail to come away with a star player Thursday, it won’t be for lack of aggressiveness. 


“I think the Celtics are taking criticism for waiting, and they’ve had all these assets they haven’t moved yet, but I think the record shows that Danny Ainge in general, in total, is very aggressive, not afraid to roll the dice, not afraid to make the aggressive move,” Stein said. “So I have less doubt about Boston saying, ‘Let’s just do it.’ I have far more questions about what Chicago and/or Indiana would do.” 

Lowe said that he imagines the Bulls would “think about” trading the C's Butler if Boston threw in the Nets’ pick unprotected, but added that Chicago would demand to also take two players out of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. 

“I think that will be the offer and they’ll get there and Chicago will either have a moment where they say, ‘We walk away or we’ll do it.’ And Boston’s not going to throw in the other Nets pick,” Lowe said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Rating the aforementioned foursome in terms of trade value, Lowe said that Crowder is the best piece because of his “ridiculously good” contract, followed by Brown, Smart and Bradley. 

Lowe added that he considers Bradley one of the “sneaky interesting pieces at this trade deadline” because his contract is up after next season, which is the same time that Isaiah Thomas’ contract expires. Lowe says that given the uncertainty of his future in Boston, he wouldn’t be overly surprised if Bradley is moved at the deadline. 

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 


Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game.