Current Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers still has a lot of ties to the Boston Celtics. After all, he did lead the team to the 2008 NBA title.
So, it should come as no surprise that he has some thoughts on the recent trade that brought star point guard Kyrie Irving to his old team.
In exchange for Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers received Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick.
Speaking with the Boston Herald, Rivers said thinks the trade makes the Celtics a much more dangerous team heading into the 2017-18 season:
“I mean, I think Cleveland and them are obviously the two teams to beat in the East, but this tells you why I think Danny and I were successful together, and it’s why Danny and Brad, they’ll be successful, is because they’re never scared to make moves or changes,” Rivers said. “You think about it, they won the East last year and they have six or seven or eight new players, and they really have changed their identity. No Avery (Bradley), no (Jae) Crowder, that’s their heart and soul of their defense.
“They went out and got talent, man. That’s gonna show. I think what they’ve really done, to me, what they didn’t have in the past, and I think every team has to have it, you have to have closers. You can be as good as you want to be, and at the end of the game you need to have guys who are going to close the game for you. Now they have those. I don’t know if they’ve had that in the past, and now they do.”
Irving will team up with free-agent acquisition Gordon Hayward and last year's big signing, Al Horford, in Boston's starting lineup this year.
As for Rivers, he's happy with the Clippers, but said he wouldn't mind being back in Boston to coach this group of Celtics, either:
“My love for them hasn’t changed,” Rivers said of the Celtics. “For me, it was time for me to change. When you’re somewhere for nine years, you don’t think whether it’s the right or wrong decision, you think it’s the right decision for you at that time. But as far as wanting them to do well, that will never change. Unless they’re playing me."
Indeed, the Celtics should do well this year as they try to challenge LeBron James and the Cavs for Eastern Conference supremacy. No matter what happens this year, it's safe to say Rivers will be keeping an eye on his old team.