LOS ANGELES — Welcome to the land of milk and sunny, where Doc Rivers is set to be introduced as the Clippers’ new head coach and vice president of basketball operations at a news conference here Wednesday.
And so ends, officially, Rivers’s nine-season tenure as the Celtics’ head coach.
And so begins, finally, after nearly two weeks of back-and-forth negotiations when deals were dead and alive countless times, the Boston head coaching search.
Challenges await the Celtics.
■ No. 1: The pool of candidates is rather shallow, as several other teams — Phoenix, Denver, Detroit, Sacramento, Cleveland, Charlotte, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Memphis, plus now the Clippers — have hired new head coaches this year.
The only teams with head coaching vacancies are Boston and Philadelphia.
“There aren’t a lot of guys out there,” a league source said.
One younger candidate who was interested in Boston — and who several league sources said was a potential leading candidate — was Brian Shaw, who was drafted by the Celtics in 1988. But Shaw accepted the job in Denver Monday.
That doesn’t leave the Celtics with many obvious options. Of course, they weren’t looking to hire a new coach when the season ended, nor did they expect the negotiations with the Clippers would drag on for so long.
But they can’t turn back the clock now.
■ No. 2: Just as the list of candidates is slim, so too are the chances the Celtics can hire a “name” coach, which matters more than you might think in Boston.
First of all, having a big-name coach in Los Angeles, New York, or Miami isn’t a must because each of those is already a “destination city” for NBA players.
Boston, however, is not a city all that attractive for free agents, and one reason the Celtics organization valued Rivers so much is because he is a “player’s coach,” meaning free agents would come to Boston to play for him.
In fact, in 2012, Sports Illustrated conducted a survey in which NBA players voted Rivers the coach they’d most like to play for.
Make no mistake, to Celtics ownership, hiring a coach who has a presence is a factor. “They’d like to hire someone ‘presidential,’ ” said a league source familiar with the inner workings of the organization.
And if the owners are looking for someone “exotic,” they could go with Boston-born David Blatt, who is currently head coach of the Israeli pro team Maccabi Tel Aviv, or Italy’s Ettore Messina, currently coaching CSKA in Moscow and considered one of the top coaches in Europe.
“There are five or six ‘names’ like Lionel Hollins and George Karl and Alvin Gentry and Scott Skiles,” a league source said. “Then you look at the younger guys — and there aren’t a lot of them that are hot names right now.”
■ No. 3: The Celtics are a rebuilding team, which isn’t exactly attractive. Just ask Rivers.
Or ask Karl, the former Nuggets coach, who told the Denver Post recenly that he wants to coach for a few more years but added, “I don’t want to coach a rebuilding team.”
Even worse for the Celtics, perhaps, is that their best player — point guard Rajon Rondo — is high-maintenance.
“Danny [Ainge] has to look at it as, ‘If I’m not trading Rondo, who in the world can handle him?’ ” a league source said.
The source added, “When you look at this team and you compare it to other rebuilding teams, the biggest difference is your best player is an [expletive].”
■ No. 4: The Celtics almost certainly won’t pay their next coach nearly as much as they paid their last one — $7 million per year, the richest coaching salary in the NBA.
“The whole point is to spend less than $7 million to get a new coach,” a league source said, “which these days you can get for $2 million.”
A league source confirmed that one candidate the Celtics are interested in is current assistant Jay Larranaga. Rivers is also interested in having Larranaga join his staff in Los Angeles, the source added.
It’s unclear whom Rivers might want to poach from his former staff in Boston, but a league source cited assistants Kevin Eastman and Armond Hill. Likewise, a league source said it’s likely Celtics assistant Tyronn Lue joins Shaw’s staff in Denver.
Larranaga, the son of Miami (Fla.) basketball coach Jim Larranaga, joined the Celtics this season after two seasons as head coach of the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League.
Larranaga will also be coaching the Celtics’ summer league team in Orlando, where the front office will be able to get a better look at him.
Regardless, the Celtics don’t necessarily have to be in rush to make a decision. It’s still relatively early in the offseason.
However, those obstacles aren’t going anywhere, either.
“Yeah, you want a big name, but you’re not going to pay him,” a league source said. “Yeah, you want to go young, but you want someone who can lure free agents.
“They’ve got to get creative. That’s the only way.”