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

all.”

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

together.

”Unfortunately it is from our standpoint,” Garnett said. ”No

one knows the certainty of the future. We’re just trying to embrace

it.”

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.