As the rumors about Doc Rivers' disinterest in coaching a rebuilding team in Boston continue to swirl, Celtics fans can't help but wonder who will coach the team in 2013-14. Danny Ainge has denied rival teams the opportunity to speak with Rivers, but if the veteran head coach decides to take a sabbatical, former Los Angeles Clippers' coach Vinny Del Negro would "receive serious consideration as his replacement," according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.
Why would the Celtics turn to Del Negro? First and foremost, he will come cheap. The phrase "stop gap" was invoked in Murphy's report. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, so the situation should still be considered very fluid.
There will be a big difference in salary between Rivers and any replacement. If Rivers leaves, it's probably a signal that Boston plans to dismantle the veteran core of their roster and move on from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Other teams aren't exactly knocking the door down to speak with Del Negro, so he won't command much on market. For the sake of comparison, Rivers is primed to enter the third year of a five-year, $35 million contract with Boston, while Del Negro made roughly $1 million during his third and final season in L.A.
Would a highly regarded assistant coach like Brian Shaw, or a hot name in player development like David Fizdale, be worth the extra risk if Boston decides to rebuild? It's hard to say, but Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog made an interesting point in his recent story: "I'm sorry, but can anyone see Rajon Rondo respecting and listening to Del Negro?" If the Chris Paul situation in L.A. is any indication, Clark is right to be concerned about the fit.
For now, Boston is simply waiting for a firm decision from Rivers.