Celtics coach Rivers plans on more from Garnett
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers isn’t worried about his team’s
lack of depth at center. He plans on using Kevin Garnett a lot more
in that role this season.
Entering his 17th season in the NBA and his fifth with Boston,
the 6-foot-11 forward has been the anchor of Boston’s defense since
he was acquired from Minnesota. Now Rivers says he’ll probably be
playing the 14-time All Star at center a lot more.
The Celtics coach talked Saturday about the league’s shortage of
good centers after the team’s second day of practice and feels as
if Garnett may be one of his best options.
As trade rumors involving center Jermaine O’Neal continued to
swirl around the team’s practice facility, Rivers had a quick
answer when asked what he plans to do.
”We’ll move Kevin,” Rivers said. ”He will play the 5 this
year. I honestly don’t think that it’ll be a problem. When he was
younger it would have been a problem.”
But why now? During his career, Garnett, a 23,000-plus point
scorer, has been successful against forwards, using his size to get
off his solid jumper.
”He’s older, bigger, stronger and can play both positions and
can spread the floor from that position,” Rivers said. ”He can
play the whole game at center and it wouldn’t bother me at
When Boston acquired Garnett from the Timberwolves during the
summer of 2007, it had young and promising center Kendrick Perkins
anchoring the middle. But last year just before the trading
deadline, Perkins was dealt to Oklahoma City in a deal that brought
the Celtics a young talented forward in Jeff Green.
At the time, Boston president Danny Ainge felt that O’Neal and
Shaquille O’Neal would be enough. Shaq missed most of the final
months of the regular season and nearly all of the playoffs before
retiring during the offseason. Jermaine O’Neal was also in and out
of the lineup as the season was winding down.
Now, they hope Garnett can fill the void.
But it’s a void Rivers has seen since his playing days.
”I was fortunate enough to play in the big era,” said Rivers,
who played 14 years in the league from 1983-96.
”Right now there’s not many of them,” he said of the dearth of
big men. ”Dwight (Howard) and (Andrew) Bynum are two that come to
mind. I might be missing one or two.”
Garnett, who spoke to the media on Saturday ahead of Rivers,
echoed what his coach said one day earlier: that Boston’s Big Three
– Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett – may be in for its last run
at a title. The trio won the NBA crown in 2008, its first season
”Unfortunately it is from our standpoint,” Garnett said. ”No
one knows the certainty of the future. We’re just trying to embrace
Now, his future may be in the middle of the offense and the
defense a lot more this season – one that could be his last with
his contract expiring after the season.
”I’m focused on this year and this year only,” he said.