The Orlando Magic Don’t Need Doc Rivers

With talk of a future reunion between the Orlando Magic and former head coach Doc Rivers, it’s best for both parties if they continue to remain apart.

With the Orlando Magic‘s regular season stuttering to an unexciting end, talk has turned to how this team could look in the future.

That stretches beyond the upcoming draft, where the team will have to decide which player they take with what will likely be a top five pick.

One train of thought however, is that the team is already angling at bringing back former head coach Doc Rivers in the distant (or not too distant) future.

While it’s exciting to be linked with a proven head coach who won a championship with the Boston Celtics, here is why the team should not turn to Rivers again down the road.

It starts with something that I am now going to try and trademark, “the Disease of Greener Grass.”

Sure, it’s great to think that Rivers could come back and lead the team to past glories, and he’d also help cut out some steps in the rebuilding phase too.

Feb 8, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers coaches against the New York Knicks during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re not aware, the Magic don’t appear to be very good at this crucial element of building through the draft and free agents. In fact they have yet to draft one can’t-miss player, and the biggest offseason acquisition in half a decade, Serge Ibaka, didn’t last a full season with the team.

But Rivers would need some sort of core to work with, something that would already be in place.

Do you think he’s likely to leave a job in Los Angeles with the Clippers to take on Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and the gang?

Even if he was eventually fired from there, Rivers wouldn’t have long to wait before another, better positioned franchise came calling.

Returning to that aforementioned greener grass, and the Magic already have a competent head coach in Frank Vogel. Is it really right to gossip about the next guy to lead this team, when the current one hasn’t even had 82 games to put his mark on the roster yet?

Vogel is a good coach, and while it didn’t work with Ibaka playing alongside Bismack Biyombo, they have shown promise since the All-Star break.

Elfrid Payton has seen a major improvement since then, while Nikola Vucevic is as dependable as ever.

Any one of us could have coached the Magic this season and had a similar experience to the one in which Vogel is having now. In the context of the league and the direction in which it has gone, Vogel just doesn’t have a lot to work with.

Fans have short memories, and it was he who brought the Indiana Pacers to the playoffs five out of his six seasons there. That run also included back-to-back conference finals and a solid showing against the LeBron James led Miami Heat at that time.

He says the right things, hasn’t thrown any of the team’s young players under the bus and is experimenting with lineups too.

He needs more time with this team before we can decide if he should be at the helm there for the long term.

As for Rivers, well, he was a capable coach while with the Magic, posting a record of .504 and going 5-10 in the playoffs.

His tenure in Boston with the Celtics wasn’t going brilliantly either until general manager Danny Ainge brought Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the team in 2008.

If we could go back in time and put the defensively obsessed Vogel onto that Celtics team, how would they have done?

There’s no guarantee they’d have gone all the way, but it’s a safe assumption to conclude they would still have been pretty good.

None of this is designed to bash Rivers; we just need to remember that the team isn’t doing too badly in having Vogel in charge right now. He was the guy most fans wanted when he became available last summer, and now just because Rivers might be out there one day, Vogel should have the threat of being canned hanging over his head?

Rivers is great in many ways, including commanding respect around the league. That would be an advantage with any potential free agents. This is an area the Magic are seriously lacking, and it is enticing. But what also needs to be remembered is how much power Rivers would want.

As it stands he’s the head coach and general manager of the Clippers. Would it be great to have Rivers take over from current GM Rob Hennigan? You bet.

But the roster would be totally shaped by his decisions. Right now he has an owner in Steve Ballmer who seems happy to let Rivers do his thing.

He’s also got the lure of playing in the second biggest market in the NBA in L.A. and three All-Stars on his team.

Add to that the three-point shooting skills of veterans J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford, and you would think the team would be in a good place. Yet they’ve never reached a conference finals in their five-plus years together, and while luck and injury have played their part, shouldn’t some of that fall on Rivers?

After all, he’s got the supposedly hard part figured out, putting some stars together on the court.

It then becomes about filling the rest of the roster out to get over the top, and so far he has not been able to achieve this.

Even if the Magic landed the first pick in this summer’s draft, it would take their roster at least four years and the flipping of several players to come even close to that of the Clippers.

As it is they have one of the five greatest point guards of all time in his prime running the show in Chris Paul, and so many complementary pieces around him.

Why would Doc Rivers even entertain going back to that situation, especially with the Magic still totally unsure of what it is that they are?

This is why both head coach and franchise should remain apart.

Perhaps in theory it sounds like a great idea designed to return the team to former (modest) glories.

But in practice, nothing about bringing Rivers back to the Orlando Magic is good, from the timing, to the control required on his end to the current makeup of the roster.

Leave it in Frank Vogel’s capable hands, because right now there doesn’t seem to be a better solution.

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