NBA Boston Celtics

Top 5 Head Coaching Candidates for Boston Celtics If Doc Rivers Leaves

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Top Coaching Candidates For Boston Celtics If Doc Rivers Leaves

Celtics Coaches
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Every year Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers says he doesn’t know whether or not he wants to continue coaching the team. Every year he waffles, but every year he comes back.

This year, though, feels different. Whether it's the trade talks with the Los Angeles Clippers or just the fact that he's said publicly he doesn’t want to come back and coach a team in a rebuilding phase, this year it feels like he's burned his bridges in Boston and couldn’t come back and be the head man for the Celtics.

The team is, in fact, in a rebuilding mode. Whether or not they're able to move veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for young talent, they were barely a playoff team this past season and aren't getting any better heading into next year.

Now that Pierce and Garnett can't be considered star players on a contending team anymore, the best players on the Celtics are enigmatic Rajon Rondo, coming off knee surgery and the inconsistently good Jeff Green. While both of those players are good enough to lead the team to some wins, maybe even another playoff berth, they're not good enough to lead a contending team.

The Celtics are ready to begin the long process of rebuilding, and that could be the reason for Doc's departure, even if he wanted to try to come back next year. Instead of bringing Doc back, and risking the chemistry with the young players who will be the foundation of the future, the Celtics should cut ties with their coach and bring in a new, fresh face at the helm.

These are the five best candidates to take over for Doc Rivers, should he not be back in Boston next year.

Ben Sullivan is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Nate McMillan

Nate McMillan
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Nate McMillan has proven to possess one of the more rare skills amongst NBA head coaches, and it's a skill the Celtics are going to covet in the coming years.

McMillan has proven the ability to take a tumultuous young team and turn them into a steady winner. He did it with the Portland Trail Blazers when he was their coach from 2005 to 2012. When he took over, the Blazers were a total mess. Under McMillan, Portland increased their win totals every year until 2010.

In the end, McMillan lost his job in Portland because he couldn’t take the team to a true contending level. But for the Celtics, they aren’t worried about that, they just need a coach to get them through the rough waters the next few years are sure to be.

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4. Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Van Gundy, the former coach of the rough and tumble New York Knicks in the late 90's and the Houston Rockets from 2003 to 2007, can bring the kind of discipline the Celtics will need to get them through the transitional period of the next few years.

Van Gundy built his best teams on tough, physical defense, and so did the Celtics teams that had success under Doc Rivers. Van Gundy could be just what the team needs to build a young roster cemented on good defense.

He's been rumored to be in the mix for plenty of coaching jobs over the last few years, and has yet to be lured out of the broadcasting booth. He already has a great job, criticizing refs from the comfort of press row, but if he could be convinced to come to Boston, he could be the right mix of player development and discipline they will need.

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3. Byron Scott

Byron Scott
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Byron Scott is another NBA head coach who has experience on his side. Scott has a total of 11 years of head coaching experience under his belt, with the Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Hornets and most recently, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Scott is a player's coach who has made the most out of young rosters in the past. He works especially well with young point guards, tutoring Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving.

With the Celtics in rebuilding mode, Scott would be the kind of coach who can make young players better.

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2. George Karl

George Karl
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

George Karl's firing from the Denver Nuggets after they surpassed all expectations this past year was surprising to almost everyone. Denver's loss could be Boston's gain.

The young pieces that the Celtics are most likely to keep, Rondo and Jeff Green, would both play well in Karl's up tempo offensive system. If the team is going to go the route of squeezing the most wins they can out of the roster their left with, Karl would be a great coach to do it with.

Karl, who got his first head coaching job in the NBA all the way back in 1984 with the Cleveland Cavaliers has been one of the best coaches in the league for years now, and his experience dealing with making the pieces work on young teams is a perfect match for what the Celtics will need going forward.

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1. Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Shaw is a name that's been tossed around for a couple years as one of the best young assistants. He's been linked to several coaching vacancies in the past, and if he's not coaching in Boston next year, it's likely he'll be the head man somewhere else.

Shaw, a guard who could play both the one and the two positions in his NBA playing days, played for multiple teams during his career. In fact, his career began in Boston. The Celtics drafted Shaw with the 24th overall pick in the 1988 draft. Shaw had his best years in the NBA after he left the team in 1992, but bringing him back as a coach would be a great way to come full circle.

In many ways, Shaw is like a younger version of Doc Rivers. A former playmaking guard who got by on his smarts and work ethic more than his talent. Shaw has the combination of basketball IQ and player relations it takes to be a successful coach in the NBA.