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Mannix on D&C: ‘I don’t see’ Ainge leaving for Phoenix

Posted By Jay Asser On June 22, 2010 @ 10:20 am In General | 1 Comment

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about the Celtics and all things NBA. He touched on the possibility of Doc Rivers leaving the Celtics, the NBA draft, and coaching changes around the association.

“I’ve talked to a few coaching friends of Doc in the last 72 hours, and every one of them, the consensus is that he’s probably going to walk away,” Mannix said. “For all the reasons that he enumerated, there’s nothing remotely surprising about it. They feel like it’s time, they feel like it makes sense. He’s taken the team or the team has gone as a current group as far as they possibly can go and now is a great situation to leave.”

Mannix also spoke about what it will take to re-sign Ray Allen and bring him back for next season.

Below are highlights from the conversation. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [1] to hear the interview.

On Doc Rivers:

I’ve talked to a few coaching friends of Doc in the last 72 hours, and every one of them, the consensus is that he’s probably going to walk away. For all the reasons that he enumerated, there’s nothing remotely surprising about it. They feel like it’s time, they feel like it makes sense. He’s taken the team or the team has gone as a current group as far as they possibly can go and now is a great situation to leave. Nothing that’s new as far as I was being told, but the tug of the family in Florida and wanting to watch his kids grow up have really weighed on Doc a lot more this year than they have in years past. So the consensus is around the league that he’s going to walk away.

On Danny Ainge leaving:

That’s an interesting thing that’s not being talked about a lot, that the Phoenix Suns now have an opening in their general manager position and Danny has very strong ties to Phoenix, having coached there, played there, I believe he still has a home there in the offseason. He just has a very strong connection there. It’s possible that [owner] Robert Sarver could come in with some kind of sweetheart deal and try to entice Danny there. For obviously, with the same reasons we’re talking about Doc, this thing may have played itself out for Danny. He won a championship, he brought them to two NBA finals, he accomplished a lot with this Celtics team.

One reason why I don’t think about it too much or don’t lend too much credibility to it that Robert Sarver just let a very competent GM go in Steve Kerr. I mean, he let the guy walk away and ordered him to take a pay cut after probably his best managerial job in his tenure in Phoenix. So I’m not sure I see Sarver, who has been one of the owners more affected by the recession with his off-the-court stuff … I don’t see him coming in with some kind of grandfather deal to lure Danny away from Boston. If he did, then we might have something to talk about, but at this point I don’t see that happening.

On replacing Rivers:

Well, I think when you’re talking about who Danny would want to replace Doc, you have to start with his criteria for coaches. No. 1, he’s not a big fan of assistant coaches, so you can rule out the Marc Iavaroni, Erik Spoelstra types who have always been the hot names on the market. This year it’s kind of Dwane Casey down in Dallas, so you could probably rule them out.

The other thing that Danny likes is ex-players. … Obviously, if those guys are on the list then you have to start with his best buddy in Kevin McHale. I’m not a huge fan of Kevin McHale as a coach for several reasons. No. 1, his strong desire to coach is perplexing to me since Glen Taylor basically had to shove him to the bench several years ago, make him coach that year he basically made a mess of in Minnesota. … I didn’t think he was a great coach, to be honest with you. He had a decent run with a really bad team and he’s no question in my mind a terrific big-man coach. There’s nothing I would like more than him come in as a special assistant to Danny so he could just work with Kendrick Perkins every day.

I think Vinny Del Negro is a name we’re going to hear a lot of. He’s got a good relationship with Danny and kind of has that head coaching experience that Danny’s looking for. I don’t think that Vinny is as personable as Doc, I don’t think he relates to players as Doc. … I think if the interview process gets drawn out, I think a guy like Sam Mitchell’s name is going to pop up on the radar. Sam, remember, is a former Coach of the Year in Toronto. A bit of an abrasive coach at times, didn’t always play well with others, if you will, but he does have a good reputation as far as getting the most out of players. One thing not to forget, Sam Mitchell has maybe the best relationship with Kevin Garnett of anybody in the NBA. … So I think that’s a distinct possibility as a coaching candidate down the road.

On Paul Pierce possibly leaving:

I don’t think it’s possible. I don’t think there’s any chance that Pierce leaves Boston. I think there’s a decent chance that Pierce opts out of his contract, but to me it could be Dirk Nowitzki type of situation. … I don’t think Paul Pierce is going to get quite as much but I think he’s going to get a considerable contract from Boston that more than recoups $21.5 million that he’s going to leave on the table. … If you’re talking about potential free agents leaving, you have to be much more terrified about Ray Allen walking away than Paul Pierce.

On re-signing Ray Allen:

I would be disappointed, because I think Ray has three of four more good years left in him. … You talk about what the Celtics are going to bring in via the draft. I think it’s probably going to be a guard and bring in a young player to sort of take over for a guy like Ray Allen down the road. … The question is, what is Ray going to be asking? I’ve heard a lot about the midlevel exception. Ray is not settling for the midlevel exception, I’m sorry.

He’s going to be looking for an astronomical deal when he comes out of this thing. … I’ll throw a number at you guys and it’s going to sound ludicrous, but it’s what a GM told me right before the start of the finals, that Ray Allen was going to start by asking for a five-year, $75 million deal. How ridiculous does that sound? … I think it’s going to have to start at $10 million per year over three years. I think that’s the bare minimum that you’re going to have to pay to keep Ray Allen.

On the NBA draft:

All the good big men in this draft are at the top. … When you get down to the second half of the draft, I really can’t remember too many guys that have been home run picks that are over 7 feet in the back end of the draft. You always end up with those guys at the top end of the draft and you get the better guards at the bottom end. I will say this, I do believe you will have at least one Tony Parker type, one Rajon Rondo type, a David Lee at the back end of the draft, a Josh Howard. You are going to get a top-of-the-rotation player at the back end of this draft, I’m positive of it. You’re going to get at least one and maybe two. The question is, which guy is it?

You have to hit a home run if you’re Boston, you have to get a really marquee type player. I’ll throw a couple of names at you that I’ve heard so far. One is Avery Bradley, a kid from Texas, a terrific jump shooter and defender who is really great in transition of what I’ve seen of him. Another is Elliot Williams, a kid from Memphis, he’s kind of an attack-the-rim kind of player who gets to the free throw line a lot. I really like him as a Ray Allen replacement type. … And the other guy is a Kentucky guy, Eric Bledsoe. I mean, I know talking to other people within the Celtics that he had a great workout for them a couple of weeks ago. He’s incredibly explosive and incredibly raw because we don’t know what were going to get from him because he played behind John Wall all last year. He’s a guy to keep your eye on because I think Boston is going to look to replace that bench.


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