View Full Version : NBA Insider...Nov 18: Doc Rivers fired; The Good, the bad & the kitchen sink

11-18-2003, 12:56 PM
NBA Insider...Nov 18: Doc Rivers fired; The Good, the bad & the kitchen sink

Where will Doc Rivers resurface?

Doc Rivers was kicked to the curb early Tuesday morning after the Magic suffered their 10th consecutive loss. The team named Rivers' assistant, Johnny Davis, as the interim head coach.

"It's happened, and I'm helping Johnny get ready to take over," Rivers told the Orlando Sentinel.

The move comes as no big surprise. The Magic have quietly been descending into lottery hell all season. The losses were taking their toll, but it was the defection of the team's most important player, Tracy McGrady, that was the final straw for Rivers.

On Friday, Insider reported that McGrady and Rivers were feuding and McGrady was quietly pushing for the team to make the move. That left Magic COO John Weisbrod and GM John Gabriel with very little wiggle room.

There's no question Doc Rivers will coach again, but where?
Rivers is a popular figure in Orlando, but sources claim he had lost most of the players in the locker room.

According to one Eastern Conference GM, Rivers' firing shouldn't come as a surprise. "I've always felt that a coach has a shelf life of three or four years unless he's winning championships," the GM told Insider. "The motivational tatics that work on players in the beginning grow old with time. If players aren't seeing the results on the floor, they quit responding. It happens with every coach, even the good ones."

Rivers had just begun his fifth season coaching the Magic.

On Monday, GMs around the league were already speculating on where Rivers would land next.

"I think he's a great coach," one GM said. "Doc will have a job as soon as he's ready for one."

Rivers hasn't said whether he's ready to take a job now or if he'll wait until the summer to look for work. Most top head coaches shy away from taking over a team once the season begins, because it takes them too long to install their new system.

However, you can expect several big name teams to seriously consider making a pitch to Rivers now. Insider conducted an informal poll of eight GMs and two assistant GMs on Monday afternoon.

Five believed Rivers would be the next head coach of the Knicks. Three believed he'd take over the Bulls. And two thought the Hawks, now under new management, would be his destination. None of the 10 polled thought Rivers would wait until the summer before returning to the bench.

Of course, all three teams mentioned have head coaches under contract. But with all three stumbling out of the gates, the possibility of a coaching change or two certainly isn't far-fetched.

Insider breaks down the top contenders for Rivers' services:

New York Knicks: They're off to a 3-7 start under head coach Don Chaney, but GM Scott Layden told reporters on Thursday that he was Chaney's "biggest fan." Many NBA observers believe this is where Doc has always wanted to coach.

Rivers spent two and a half seasons in New York as a player and has an affection for the city and the national spotlight the Knicks provide. The problem is, Rivers probably doesn't want to step out of one bad situation and into another. The Knicks have less cap flexibility than the Magic and have been slow to make any dramatic changes to their roster.

If Antonio McDyess is healthy and Layden can find a way to pry Jamal Crawford away from the Bulls (see below), perhaps Rivers would consider. But short of some serious talent upgrades, it's hard to believe Rivers would want a team with too many over-priced veterans and not enough young talent.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls offer Rivers his best shot of winning. The team is loaded with talent, has plenty of assets and is underachieving at the moment. Rivers always has yearned to have more than just one superstar on his roster. In Chicago he'd have three potential ones.

To make things even more interesting, remember that Rivers is an Illinois native. He played high school ball at Proviso East High in Maywood.

Don't count out the glory factor, either. Whoever gets the Bulls to the playoffs after the five-season drought will be a hero in Chicago. The Bulls have the raw pieces, they just need someone to put them together.

Coach Bill Cartwright has done an admirable job, but he's had an uneasy relationship with several of his younger players. New GM John Paxson probably doesn't want to fire Cartwright, but the opportunity to get a name coach like Rivers might be too good to pass up. Paxson has made it clear the Bulls need to make the playoffs this year. You've got to believe Rivers gives them a great shot.

Atlanta Hawks: Now that the Hawks have new ownership and will soon have new management, this may be the perfect time to get in on the ground floor of a rebuilding situation headed in the right direction.

This may be one of the few spots in the NBA where Rivers could hold both the GM and head coaching jobs. He often clashed in Orlando with Gabriel and made no secret about his desire to call the shots on the talent the team should acquire.

The Hawks aren't any good right now, but they do have a few young building blocks with Jason Terry, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Boris Diaw. The team also has enough other assets to make some moves to bring in the personnel Rivers might want.

The Hawks aren't the sexiest destination for Rivers, but he spent eight years in Atlanta as a player and professes a great loyalty to the franchise. Hiring Rivers is exactly what the Hawks need to begin energizing one of the smallest fan bases in the NBA.

His team won't win right away, but with a few good moves in trades, Rivers would have the chance to turn around a moribund franchise.

Around the League

-The firing of Doc Rivers may just be the first of several moves made by Magic COO John Weisbrod to stop the bleeding in Orlando.

"We had become increasingly concerned that this team was not about to right itself and get back on track," Weisbrod said. "There was a culture of losing developing that was very concerning and felt now was the time to make a move."

"We don't want to develop a culture of losing around here. And we don't want to play 50 or so meaningless games down the stretch this season. I just thought the earlier we did this the sooner we could start to change the course of this season."

For now Johnny Davis will be the head coach. According to Weisbrod, "We felt strongly that he's the right man for this job." That should end, at least for the moment, speculation that Scott Skiles or Isiah Thomas may be coming to the rescue in Orlando. If the Magic continue to lose, however, Weisbrod may bring in a new GM to start looking for a new head coach.

That's why GM John Gabriel is probably the next guy with his head on the chopping block. Gabriel said in a statement Tuesday that "With this move there is no less work or responsibility in store for any of us. We will continue to do everything possible to make this team better."

The problem is that the Magic don't have a lot of wiggle room to make the changes they feel are necessary. The team needs help at the point and in the middle. Right now, the team's first-round pick, Reece Gaines, looks years away from helping the Magic. The experiment of playing Juwan Howard at center isn't working. Moving Drew Gooden to small forward also hasn't worked. With sharp shooter Pat Garrity out for an extended period with an injury, the Magic are short handed, making it tough to make a meaningful trade.

There's been talk that the Magic have shown interest in players such as Brent Barry, Jerome James, Jamal Crawford, Jamaal Tinsley and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. However, it doesn't appear that the Magic have the juice to get any of the deals done.

The problem the Magic continue to run into is that their first-round draft picks have failed to develop. Over the past four drafts, the Magic have taken Gaines, Ryan Humphrey, Steven Hunter, Jeryl Sasser and Mike Miller. The Magic were able to parlay Miller and Humphrey into Gooden and Gircek, but the failure of players like Hunter and Sasser to pay any dividends explains why the team doesn't have a real starting point guard or center right now.

Gabriel's failure in the draft (though some say Rivers was as much or more to blame for these picks) may come back to haunt him. The Magic just don't have enough assets to get the type of player they need in return. They're not trading McGrady, and after him, their best asset is probably Giricek (he's in the last year of his deal) or Gooden -- two guys they really don't want to trade.

Gabriel's still considered one of the better GMs in the league and his history with the franchise makes him tough to fire. A new GM won't be able to fix this overnight, but a fresh set of eyes may be more willing to shake things up.

-Does Knicks GM Scott Layden really want to make the Knicks attractive to a coach like Doc Rivers? Then he should quit fooling around with his unrealistic offers for Crawford and Ilgauskas and work out something with the Bulls and Cavs.
Jamal Crawford
Point Guard
Chicago Bulls

10 13.3 2.7 4.6 .402 .870

Clearly, Crawford is available and the Bulls have shown interest in some of the Knicks players. What if the Knicks have to give up a first-round pick to acquire Crawford? So what. He's the type of young, energetic guard they've been looking for.

Several deals make sense for the Bulls. Of course, Bulls GM John Paxson is going to want to pawn off one or two bad salaries on New York. A trade of Crawford and Eddie Robinson for Charlie Ward, Othella Harrington, the rights to second-round pick Milos Vujanic and a Knicks No. 1 pick works. The Bulls get some cap wiggle room (they can even waive Ward by Jan. 10 and get $4 million off the cap now) and the Knicks get two young players for little in return.

A suggestion on Monday by the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith that the Knicks trade Ward, Harrington and Antonio McDyess for Crawford, Robinson and Jalen Rose works for the Bulls, but doesn't get it done for the Knicks. If the Bulls made that move, they could be looking at roughly $15 million in cap room next summer. However, if you're Layden, I'm not sure what you do with Crawford, Rose, Robinson, Allan Houston, Keith Van Horn and Shandon Anderson. The move doesn't address the Knicks' needs at power forward and center and crams their backcourt with too many guys who need the ball. Besides, the Bulls have already learned that it's suicide defensively to put Crawford and Rose together in the same backcourt.

The Knicks have also shown interest in Ilgauskas. The Cavs are trying to get more cap room for next summer and getting Ilgauskas' $14.5 million off the books would put them roughly at $18 million under next summer.

What would it cost the Knicks? Antonio McDyess. Regardless of whether McDyess is healthy, his contract comes off the books next summer. If he is really ready to play, he gives the Cavs an athletic scorer and defender in the post who could propel them into the playoffs. If he plays well and appears healthy, the Cavs will own his Bird rights and could re-sign him. If he continues to struggle with injuries, the Cavs can let him go and spend their money elsewhere.

The addition of Ilgauskas, Crawford and Rivers should be enough to push the Knicks in the playoffs. Could Layden pull it off?

-What's up with Jamaal Tinsley's lack of playing time in Indiana? He went from starter last season to playing in just three games and 13.3 minutes this year.
Jamaal Tinsley
Point Guard
Indiana Pacers

3 2.3 1.0 2.3 .231 .000

"We've never been in a situation before we're we've had other viable options," Pacers president Donnie Walsh told Insider. "I think Rick prefers to go with experience."

Tinsley's benching has led to rampant speculation that the Pacers are trying to move him. Walsh claims the rumors are bogus.

"I think you get other GMs speculating that because of the situation," he said. "Obviously anyone is tradable for the right price, but I don't think we have any intention of moving Tinsley. We haven't given up on him."

-How desperate are the Heat to get out from under Eddie Jones' contract? Several GMs told Insider on Monday that the Heat were trying to package Caron Butler along with Jones. That comes as a major surprise considering Butler's stellar rookie season with the Heat.

Will it be enough to get a team to swallow the four years and $55.8 million remaining on Jones' contract? Maybe.

"It's tempting," one GM told Insider. "I think everyone likes Butler a lot. You have to ask yourself, is getting the rights to Butler worth $55 million over the next four years."

Would the Blazers do that deal for Rasheed Wallace? Wallace would give the Heat another big and a ton of cap room next summer. For Portland, Butler would be a nice young replacement for Wallace at small forward and the addition of Jones would free the Blazers up to move Bonzi Wells to a team like the Raptors for cap space in return.

-Speaking of Wells it looks like he's in more trouble in Portland. Wells got into a verbal spat with coach Mo Cheeks during Monday night's game and never made it back off the bench.
"There is friction. You can write it," Cheeks told the Oregonian. "That incident happened and we have to deal with it. I don't have a concern with it. I'm going to deal with it, and then I'm going to put it aside."

Cheeks used Qyntel Woods in place of Wells. "Whatever Bonzi said made Cheeks mad," said Woods. "I don't know what it was or how it happened. I didn't see it. I don't know. It meant more playing time for me, but it also hurt the team. We need Bonzi on the floor to win. If winning keeps me on the bench, I can deal with that, but . . . "

The Good, the Bad, the Kitchen Sink

Two weeks ago, Tracy McGrady scored a total of 60 points and Magic went 0-4. Last week, McGrady scored 106 points and the Magic went 0-3. Just can't wait to see what he'll do in the next two games.

The Good

Quentin Richardson, Los Angeles Clippers
Week's work: 3-0 record, 27.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.6 bpg, 7 triples, 49% shooting

RichardsonI'd like to talk about the points and all if I could only get over the rebounds, which really shouldn't surprise me. On the year, Q is averaging 8.3 per game. Last year, he was at 4.8 per game in only 23.2 minutes per game. Remember, he's a guard. And as a rookie, he averaged 1.4 offensive rebounds per game in only 17.9 minutes. This year, he's at 2.2 and climbing. Now, check your favorite center's stats and ask him why he's not putting a body on the kid with a headband.

Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Week's work: 3-0 record, 22.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1 spg, 1 bpg, 48% shooting
The former Rookie of the Year stuck his nose in the paint and must have liked what he smelled. In the last three games, he's grabbed 34 rebounds and gotten to the free-throw line 25 times. In the previous six games, he grabbed only 36 rebounds and got to the line only 35 times.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers
Week's work: 2-2 record, 20.7 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.2 spg, 1.5 bpg, 60% shooting
If a 7-foot-3 guy is going to grab only six boards a game this week, then he had better shoot this kind of percentage and score, at least, this many points to get on this list.

Earl Boykins, Golden State Warriors
Week's work: 2-0 record, 20.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 45% shooting
Not sure if he's the Sixthman of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year or the 5-foot-5 son I always wanted. But if the previous five teams in the last five years couldn't find him a place on their roster, then four of them must have been the Cavs, Magic, Clippers and Warriors, who currently have a combined record of 12-23 right now.

The Bad

Morris Peterson, Toronto Raptors
Weak work: 1-3 record, 7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 32% shooting

PetersonBefore he does anything else today, this guy should sign the back of his paycheck and endorse it to Vince Carter. After that, he can work on his shooting, rebounding, passing and defense in any order he chooses.

Keith Van Horn, New York Knicks
Weak work: 0-3 record, 11 ppg, 7 rpg, 2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.6 bpg, 28% shooting
Hate is such a strong word until you realize he's getting paid as much as Tim Duncan and now plays at Madison Square Garden.

Penny Hardaway, Phoenix Suns
Weak work: 1-3 record, 2.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 27% shooting
Should we begin using the "R" word?

Hedo Turkoglu, San Antonio Spurs
Weak work: 3-1 record, 5.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0 bpg, 21% shooting
When the Spurs acquired his all around game, I don't think they were counting on him being sixth on the team in rebounding, seventh in scoring, eighth in assists and absolutely last in terms of 3-point percentage of anyone on the team who has had the nerve to hoist even one up.

The Ugly

The Detroit Pistons were at the end of a grueling four-game road trip in five days, having already lost the first three with one of them coming in overtime to add a little salt. So what happens when they met up with the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday?

Pistons win, 100-91.

Kind of like last week when the Hawks were at the end of a grueling five-game road trip, having just played the night before against the Clippers and lost to add a little salt. So what happens when they met up with the Suns in Phoenix who had the previous night off?

Hawks win, 100-85.

The Kitchen Sink

The easiest way to beat the Lakers is to, first, step back and assess the situation. Well, take two steps back, right behind the 3-point line. Traditionally, they are one of the best at keeping opponents' field goal percentage to a minimum. This year is no different as they have held the other guys to 41 percent shooting, meaning that after a 100 shots, their opponents would score about 82 points, free throws aside. But this year, like last year, they are horrible at defending the 3. Opponents are shooting 35 percent from distance this year after shooting 38 percent last season. So after 100 3-point attempts, opponents can expect to have scored some 105 points.


PierceFor the fourth straight season, it looks like Paul Pierce is going have his shooting percentage decline. In 2001, he shot 45 percent from the field. The following year he shot 44 percent before shooting 41 percent the next. So far this season, he's at 39 percent after going 17-for-49 last week with opponents not having to guard anyone else on the perimeter.
There are currently eight teams in the NBA, including New Jersey, Philly, Orlando, Indiana, Chicago, Minny, Seattle and the other Los Angeles, that have equal or better records on the road than they do at home. These teams, combined, are 14-24 at home and 23-13 away.

Antoine Walker is shooting a career-high 44.7 percent from the field so far with the Mavericks while also grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game, which would be the second-highest number for his career. Not so coincidently, he's taking only 4.5 3-pointers a game down from the 7.4 he took last year when he shot only 38 percent from the field and grabbed only 7.2 rebounds per game.

At his current pace of 14.2 points per game with the Lakers, Karl Malone (with 36,516 career points and counting) would need 132 more games to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabber's 38,387 career points to become the NBA's all-time leader.


MillerIt's been 10 years since Reggie Miller shot 50 percent or better from the field but he's doing it again. After nine games so far this season, the 17-year veteran and all time 3-point leader, is shooting 50 percent from the field and a tight 54 percent from 3-point range. Oddly, though, he's also shooting a career-low 77 percent from the free-throw line after hitting 5,855 of 6,611 up until now for 88 percent.
So far this season, the Chicago Bulls have had 10 different players start for them in 11 games while the Sixers have had nine different players start in 10 games and the Bucks have had eight different starters in nine games.

David Robinson, his 14th and final season in San Antone
2002-03: 8.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.7 bpg, 47% shooting

Rasho Nesterovic, his first in San Antone
2003-04: 7.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.9 bpg, 41% shooting

Indiana Pacers (8-2) versus New Orleans Hornets (7-3)
Friday, Nov. 21, in New Orleans
8 p.m. EST on NBA League Pass

The Indiana Pacers are 5-0 on the road, having defeated the defending Central Division champs in Detroit, the defending Eastern Conference champs in New Jersey, the last Eastern Conference MVP in Philly, to go along with an overtime game in Atlanta and a nail biter in The Garden. Now they get Baron Davis in a bayou.


"We won the game three times, and we lost it in four. We have not won close games the last four years. We just didn't play the game intelligently enough." -- Jeff Van Gundy after his ninth game as head coach of the Houston Rockets.

Peep Show
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Tuesday, November 18
Updated: November 18
9:05 AM ET

Minnesota Timberwolves: Center Michael Olowokandi may not make the team's next game and the team may not even notice. "I dunno. We'll see," coach Flip Saunders said in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Michael, I guess . . . it depends. This is the first time he really sat out since he came back. He had a really good practice [Sunday]. Actually, it was his other leg that was bothering him, a little bit sore, so I don't know if he was overcompensating. We'll see." Kandi has averaged only five points per game on 40 percent shooting in the last five contests.

Philadelphia 76ers: By all indications, Allen Iverson has damaged his right knee, but whether the former MVP allows doctors to fix it is another question. "I know there's not any muscle damage," Iverson said in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I didn't twist it or anything. I banged it real hard." The guard also admitted that he should not have played Monday night but that he is still reluctant to have an MRI performed.

Houston Rockets: Maurice Taylor can't say exactly what happened except that his suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy has been reduced to time served. "The only thing I can say it's an unfortunate situation and I'm glad it's over sooner than I expected," Taylor said in the Houston Chronicle. "Things fell my way." The conflict, which forced Taylor to miss six games, may have arisen from medication the power forward was taking for a dislocated shoulder. "He told us he didn't do it," forward Kelvin Cato said. "That's all that matters to me. I believe what a man tells me until he's proven wrong."

Los Angeles Clippers: If you think Darius Miles misses playing for the Clippers then you better think again. "I don't pay much attention to what they are doing anymore," said Miles in the Lorraine Morning Journal. "When I was playing for them I used to worry a lot about what they were doing. But I don't have any love for them anymore. I'm worried about this situation in Cleveland now. This is where my future is." Even if the Clippers have a better record than the Cavs? "It is a little surprising that they are doing so well," said Cavaliers coach Paul Silas. "You can't lose those types of people (Miller, Olowokandi and Odom) and still get it done. But they are doing it."

New York Knicks: Another day, another Antonio McDyess sighting. "I don't want to be almost ready," he said in the N.Y. Post. "I want it to be definite when I step on the court, 100 percent. That little bit percent that's not ready, you can get hurt." The timetable for his return now centers on Thanksgiving after he has participated in a full scrimmage with the team at least three times.

Seattle SuperSonics: Ray Allen is preparing to play for the Sonics for the first time all over again. "I've always been the type, when I come back, even when I came here last year, I didn't want to disrupt anything what was going on," he said in the Post-Intelligencer. "All I was thinking, 'I just want to come in, I'm not going to make the team play around me, but I'm going to play into how the team is playing.' And that's the same now." Last season's leading scorer has yet to play this year due to an injured ankle.

11-18-2003, 01:01 PM
Finally, they fired Rivers. Not saying it's his fault, but he lost the team, and ultimately, the coach is accountable.

The quote from the unnamed GM is interesting, how you can't coach a team more than 3 or 4 years unless you're winning championships. How long has Nellie been here... (In all seriousness, I am giving Nellie more time--as if it were up to me. Plus with all the roster turnover the Mavs have had, he hasn't been coaching the same team all this time.)

Also, that tidbit on Bonzi Wells makes me so much more relieved that rumored trade didn't go through.

Finally, interesting to see the new Spurs (Rasho and Hedo) struggling so much. What have the Spurs fans got to say about that? I admit, I'm surprised Hedo is still struggling, but anyone who expected much from Rasho (or Kandi, for that matter) must have been seriously deluded.

11-18-2003, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by: thebac
Antoine Walker is shooting a career-high 44.7 percent from the field so far with the Mavericks while also grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game, which would be the second-highest number for his career. Not so coincidently, he's taking only 4.5 3-pointers a game down from the 7.4 he took last year when he shot only 38 percent from the field and grabbed only 7.2 rebounds per game.

Kudos to Nellie and Antoine for showing discipline in this area. I hope this trend will continue through the playoffs.