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Why the buddy system is ‘huge’ for Doc Rivers 04.10.13 at 12:37 pm ET
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Randy Wittman has always been a helpful resource to Doc Rivers. (AP)

Randy Wittman has always been a helpful resource to Doc Rivers. (AP)

WALTHAM — Doc Rivers isn’t just one of the most personable coaches among fans and media, he’s one of the most likable among his fellow NBA head coaches.

And that – as it turns out – has its rewards.

As the playoffs near, Rivers has been tapping into that network of coaches for some inside intel. But Rivers isn’t looking for advance scouting tips on his opponents; he’s looking for what other coaches see in the Celtics.

Rivers was asked Tuesday at practice what he thought of teams like Cleveland and Washington defending Paul Pierce and Jeff Green with smaller, quicker guards.

“That won’t last,” Rivers predicted. “I think teams will go back and forth on it. And they did even in the game the other night [vs. Washington]. They started out small, went big and then went back to small. I think teams are trying to figure out which way they would guard them.”

Why is that? All Rivers had to do was ask longtime friend and former Atlanta teammate Randy Wittman, now the coach of the Wizards.

“It’s nice when you play, honestly, a team that’s not in the playoffs and talk to the coach after the game. I asked what their reasoning [is] for choosing one or the other. It’s been interesting the comments I’ve gotten back.”

What kind of information?

“Good information,” Rivers smiled. “They’ve always helped, and they’re open for the most part,” Rivers said of his postgame chats with the coaches. “They’re not going to tell you their secrets but they’re going to tell you some of their thoughts so they’re helpful.”

It’s not just Wittman, either. On the current four-game homestand that ends against Brooklyn, the Celtics have played Detroit [Lawrence Frank], Cleveland [Byron Scott] and Washington [Wittman]. All three teams will be home in two weeks when the playoffs begin. And all three have head coaches with direct ties to Rivers.

“That’s huge because otherwise, I wouldn’t ask, to be honest,” Rivers said. “So, if you have a relationship with a coach, it helps. And there’s also a lot of coaches not coaching right now that you talk to a lot. You even ask them, ‘Who would you guard or how would you attack?’ It’s good getting somebody outside of us because they see us entirely different than we see ourselves.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Byron Scott, Doc Rivers, Lawrence Frank
Mike Longabardi is Celtics new defensive coordinator 09.19.11 at 12:21 pm ET
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WESTON — For the last four years the Celtics have gathered for a charity golf tournament to raise money for their Shamrock Foundation. Traditionally, it’s been a kickoff of sorts as the team gets ready to head to training camp. This year, of course, is different.

With the NBA lockout raging, there were no current players at this year’s event and Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers could only deflect questions about the upcoming season. There was one bit of confirmation about the makeup of Rivers’ coaching staff, as Rivers said recently-promoted assistant coach Mike Longabardi will be primarily focused on the defensive side of the ball.

The role of defensive coordinator, for lack of a better term, has been ably filled in the past by Tom Thibodeau, who was named Coach of the Year in his first season with the Bulls, and by Lawrence Frank, who left to take over the head coaching job with the Pistons.

“Defensively, Longo will be the leader but everyone will have the same input that they had before,” Rivers said. “Kevin Eastman was really important for Lawrence and Thibs. I think that role won’t change much at all.”

Longabardi, who has been with the team since Thibodeau arrived in 2007, has big shoes to fill. Over the last four seasons, the Celtics have ranked in the top five in points allowed per 100 possessions and have generally been regarded as one of the NBA’s top defensive units. It’s a renaissance that began with the hiring of Thibodeau, as well as the addition of Kevin Garnett, one of the top defensive players the league has ever seen.

“I kept looking for the right one,” Rivers said. “Thibs for me was that guy. He loved doing it. That’s what he wanted to do and it really allowed you to coach the team, so it’s really important.”

The 38-year-old Longabardi has worked up the classic’s assistant coach ladder with stops at small schools including Pfeiffer University, Adelphi University, Lafayette College and Towson University before joining the Rockets as an assistant coach/video coordinator.

While he wasn’t as visible, Longabardi was one of a handful of invaluable behind the scenes coaches. (Darren Ermen was also in that category until he left for an assistant job with Golden State). No one knows when the season may start, but Rivers sounds confident that his team will continue their defensive success. “We pretty much know who we are,” Rivers said. “We’re not going to change our identity defensively and stuff like that.”

NOTES: If there was a benefit to the lockout, it allowed Rivers to travel with his son Austin and the Duke University basketball team as they played in China and Dubai. “China was awesome,” Rivers said. “It was a neat trip. China and Dubai. It was a great trip. I got to watch my son play and got to do a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have done. I really enjoyed it.”

Per NBA rules, Ainge wouldn’t comment on any question regarding the league, European players or the D-League, but he did say the summer allowed his staff time to take a step back and look at the league with fresh eyes. Ainge said that Ryan McDonough is in Lithuania for EuroBasket and the front office has watched the games.

“It gives us some time to step back and really reevaluate the entire league and European players, anticipate the draft,” Ainge said. “We’ve been doing all the little things and getting organized.”

Read More: Lawrence Frank, Mike Longabardi, Tom Thibodeau,
Report: Lawrence Frank is Pistons’ top choice 07.21.11 at 5:50 pm ET
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Lawrence Frank spent one season on the Celtics sideline assisting Doc Rivers. (AP)

In his one season on Doc Rivers‘ staff with the Celtics, Lawrence Frank picked up the mantle from Tom Thibodeau as the team’s top assistant and lead defensive coach and returned the team to the top of the defensive rankings. The Celtics led the NBA in points allowed, were second in field goal percentage defense and finished in a virtual tie with Thibodeau’s new team — Chicago — for points allowed per 100 possessions.

Frank spent much of the offseason interviewing for head coaching jobs in Houston, Golden State and Toronto, and now it looks like he has found a new home. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Frank has emerged as the Pistons’ top choice and is expected to receive an offer in the next 24-36 hours.

Wojnarowski also reports that Frank is expected to bring along Roy Rogers, who came over from New Jersey with Frank and served as the team’s big man coach last season. Frank compiled a record of 225-241 as head coach of the Nets that ended after a disastrous 0-16 start to the 2009-10 season. But Frank’s reputation as a dedicated, hard-working coach followed him to Boston and he was able to forge strong relationships with the team’s veterans.

The Pistons were a disaster last season under coach John Kuester, especially defensively where they ranked last in field goal percentage defense and 28th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Only Cleveland and Toronto were worse. There were also reports of an attempted player revolt against Kuester, making Detroit one of the most dysfunctional teams in the league.

Frank will have his work cut out for him as the once-proud franchise is digging out from a series of bad contracts and mediocre results. But team president Joe Dumars pulled off a coup when he drafted Greg Monroe in 2010, and a young nucleus of Monroe, Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko and rookie Brandon Knight is reason enough for optimism.

Rivers and Danny Ainge will now be in the market for an assistant coach to round out the staff, and they will also be looking for supporting personnel to replace Rogers and Darren Erman, who left to take an assistant coaching job with Golden State. Erman was with the team for the last four seasons.

Read More: Danny Ainge, Darren Erman, Lawrence Frank, Roy Rogers
Report: Knicks have interest in Lawrence Frank 07.18.11 at 5:25 pm ET
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Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank has interviewed with Houston, Golden State, Toronto and now Detroit for their head coaching jobs and he is said to be one of two finalists for the Pistons job along with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson.

It’s no secret that Frank wants to be a head coach again. He had a fairly successful run with the Nets that stretched over seven seasons before coming to a screeching halt when the Nets began the year 0-16 in 2009-10. That said as much about New Jersey’s talent as Frank’s abilities as a coach.

In his one season with the Celtics, Frank was tasked with operating the team’s defense. They ranked first in fewest points allowed, second in field goal percentage defense and were in a virtual tie with the Bulls in terms of points per 100 possessions. He also had a solid rapport with the veteran players — no easy task.

It has been assumed that Frank would return if he couldn’t get a head-coaching job but the Celtics may have competition for his services.

The Knicks have been casting about for a defensive-minded assistant and Newsday’s Alan Hahn reports that Frank would be a good fit as he and head coach Mike D’Antoni have a good relationship and — unlike many coaches — he wouldn’t be bothered by working for a coach in the last year of his contract. Additionally, Hahn notes that Frank’s wife and daughters stayed in New Jersey while he was working in Boston.

Like head coach Doc Rivers, all of Boston’s assistants were working on one-year contracts last season. Team president Danny Ainge noted that while he expected Frank to get offers, the team would have interest in bringing him back.

Read More: Celtics, Knicks, Lawrence Frank, Pistons
Lawrence Frank ‘blew away’ Pistons in coaching interview 06.20.11 at 2:04 pm ET
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After interviewing for a few other head coaching jobs this offseason, current Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank recently interviewed with the Pistons. According to the Toronto Sun, Frank “blew away” the Pistons during his interview last Wednesday.

Other finalists for the Pistons job are current Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, former Hawks coach Mike Woodson and former Pistons player and current Timberwolves assistant Bill Laimbeer.

Frank, who recently wrapped up his first season as an assistant coach with the Celtics, was the head coach of the Nets from 2004-09.

Read More: Bill Laimbeer, Kelvin Sampson, Lawrence Frank,
Celtics made Doc Rivers highest-paid NBA coach 05.19.11 at 10:47 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Following the retirement of Phil Jackson, formerly the only eight-figure earner among coaches in the four major sports, Doc Rivers has become the highest paid coach in the NBA, according  to Forbes Magazine.

After making $5.5 million this past season, Rivers will now make an average of $7 million over the next five seasons after signing a $35 million extension. He surpassed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who both make $6 million per season.

Interestingly, the magazine credits the jumps by Rick Pitino from the University of Kentucky to the Celtics and John Calipari from UMass to the Nets “as the catalysts driving NBA coaching salaries to a new level.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics may have to hire a new assistant coach, as Lawrence Frank is a candidate for the opening head coaching positions for the Warriors and Rockets, although Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey appears to be the favorite in Houston, according to CBS Sports.

As a side note, Forbes determined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick‘s annual estimated salary of $7.5 million is the highest paycheck for any coach in the four major sports.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Lawrence Frank
Report: Rockets interview Lawrence Frank again 05.17.11 at 8:44 am ET
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Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank interviewed again with the Rockets. (AP)

Just a year after losing defensive-minded assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and watching him take the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics and head coach Doc Rivers might be posting the position on the NBA’s “Help Wanted” list for a second straight season.

Thibodeau’s replacement, Lawrence Frank, went through a second round of interviews with the Rockets on Monday for the head coaching position left vacant in Houston by Rick Adelman, according to Houston’s local FOX affiliate. He is reportedly one of three finalists for the job, along with Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and Celtics Hall of Famer Kevin McHale.

This past season, Frank did an admirable job as Rivers’ assistant coach, leading the Celtics to a No. 1 ranking in points allowed (91.1) and No. 2 ranking in defensive rating (100.3 points per 100 possessions). Under Thibodeau in 2009-10, the C’s ranked fifth in both points allowed (95.6) and defensive rating (103.8).

Last serving as a head coach in 2009, Frank totaled a 225-241 record (.483 winning percentage) with the Nets for six-plus seasons.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Houston Rockets, Lawrence Frank
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