With just one game remaining in the regular season and the Celtics on the verge of making their fourth playoff run in six years, coach Doc Rivers is now the center of speculation that his run with the team could be coming to an end.
Sources have told the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett that Rivers, a family man with three kids currently involved in high school and college sports, is leaning toward stepping down to spend more time with his family.
For Rivers, the move would make sense. His kids will all be seniors next year, two in college and one in high school. They're all reaching the prime of their young sporting lives. Rivers, who's always encouraged his kids' athletic pursuits, would love to have more time to spend in the gym and on the volleyball court, cheering them on.
If their coach does indeed walk after this season, the Celtics will thank him for six great years and wish him well.
Of course, they'll also have to think about a replacement. With their championship pedigree and star-studded roster, they'll surely have plenty of options to choose from. They could go for either a promotion from within (think Tom Thibodeau) or an outside hire (think Avery Johnson).
Both could work, but neither would be the same as keeping Doc — at least not right away. The great thing about Rivers on this Celtics team is that he's the perfect fit for Boston's personnel. He's working with a veteran team, and he's a great veteran coach. He respects his older guys, and he lets them play their game. If you take away Doc, you take away the strong bond that's endured between this team's coach and its veteran leaders.
This isn't the best of timing for these rumors, whether true or not. The Celtics are days away from beginning a playoff run as the No. 4 seed in a competitive Eastern Conference, and if they want to make it deep this year, they'll need all the focus they can muster. Off-court distractions can't help.
When the summer rolls around, the Celtics will sit down with Rivers and have a serious discussion about their future together. But for the moment, there should be one thing on Doc's mind, and that's winning.