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Danny Ainge tells his side of the Doc Rivers saga

06.26.13 at 12:39 am ET
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WALTHAM — While he wouldn’t go so far as to say Doc Rivers “quit” on the Celtics, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge expressed his disappointment in the coach’s decision to accept a job with the Clippers.

“Doc is one of the top coaches in the league, so that will be a difficult challenge,” Ainge said in Tuesday’s press conference. “My feelings are: I had planned on Doc being our coach all along. We had discussions about him being a Gregg Popovich, a Jerry Sloan, a Red Auerbach — breaking Red Auerbach’s all-time win record as a Celtic and being here for a long time — so I had never really thought about this day until May 8.”

Ainge scripted a clear timeline of what led to The Indecision this past week, when discussion with the Clippers about compensation for allowing Rivers to walk from the three years and $21 million left on his contract heated and cooled several times. Ultimately, Ainge landed an unprotected 2015 first-round pick for Rivers.

  • May 3: The Celtics lost to the Knicks, and to Ainge’s surprise Rivers expressed concern about returning.
  • May 8: Ainge approached a still hesitant Rivers, who asked what his options might be moving forward.
  • May 9: The Celtics sent Rivers a letter alerting the coach they expected him to fulfill his contract.
  • “In subsequent weeks”: A still uncertain Rivers expressed to Ainge his interest in the Clippers’ opening.

“And even then, it was so early after the season, I didn’t think it was really going to happen until [Monday],” said Ainge. “We really never were close to a deal with the Clippers in spite of the reports, so I think that this is part of the business. I don’t want to get too emotional. Doc’s going to a great situation — a place he chose to go and a place he wants to be. It’s not a place that I chose for him to go or a place that I want him to be.”

Ainge thanked his former coach for nine years of service to the Celtics and admitted, “We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers in 2008,” but also made it clear that this was very much not his preference.

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Danny Ainge: ‘We don’t feel any urgency’ to find the next coach as part of busy offseason

06.25.13 at 11:10 pm ET
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Celtics GM Danny Ainge (left) and executive Rich Gotham deliver their side of the Doc Rivers saga to media Tuesday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Celtics GM Danny Ainge (left) and executive Rich Gotham deliver their side of the Doc Rivers saga to media Tuesday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM — On the surface, Danny Ainge wanted everyone to know Tuesday evening that he will not make a panic-driven choice in selecting the replacement to Doc Rivers as head coach of the Celtics.

But deep down the president of basketball operations of the Celtics knows that next month will be a challenging one for him and his staff as they try to juggle finding the right coach with the NBA draft on Thursday with free agency, the Paul Pierce question, the Kevin Garnett dilemma and the Rajon Rondo factor.

That’s a lot for general manager who hasn’t had to search for a head coach in nine seasons.

“I do watch coaches often as I travel around and scout NBA games and college games and so forth, so I do have some people in mind,” Ainge told reporters Tuesday. “But because I haven’t had any contact or really had any consulting with my staff on all of this, I’m not really prepared at this time to address any of those questions.

“The only wrinkle [to our off-season] now is that we need to get a new coaching staff, and we don’t feel any urgency with that. We don’t need a coach before the draft, we don’t need a coach before summer league. We don’t need that to happen fast, so we’ll take our time and look, unless our No. 1 choice makes a quick choice.”

Ainge needs to decide by next Monday if he is going to try and trade Pierce, buy out his $5 million option or have him stay.

Ainge is also reportedly busy consummating a sign-and-trade for Atlanta’s talented but sometimes inconsistent forward Josh Smith.

There’s the question of what to do with Garnett and Rondo. Does Garnett want to even be around in Boston without Rivers and with the franchise facing a rebuild? How will Rondo work out with the next head coach? Are they really pieces Ainge wants to build the future of the team around?

So many questions to be answered in the next several weeks.

One thing Ainge has going for him is a growing supply of picks. The trade of Doc Rivers to the Clippers gives the Celtics an unprotected first-round pick in 2015.

“It’s an unprotected pick. You never know what can happen,” Ainge told the media. “There’s been all sorts of circumstances that have happened in our league. To get an unprotected pick is very difficult to get in our league.” “It’s an unprotected pick. You never know what can happen,” Ainge told the media. “There’s been all sorts of circumstances that have happened in our league. To get an unprotected pick is very difficult to get in our league.”

The Celtics now have eight former first-round draft picks under contract for next season who are all under the age of 28.

And with the Clippers’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft, Boston now has 13 picks over the next five NBA drafts. Six of those picks (their own five, plus L.A.’s) will be in the first round. The C’s also possess two second-round picks in the 2014, 2015 and 2017 NBA Drafts, as well as one second-rounder in 2016. All in all, the Celtics, according to NetsDaily.com, are one of seven NBA teams to own all of their first-round picks in the next six drafts.

So, Ainge has plenty of reason to be grateful to Rivers, one NBA title, another Eastern Conference championship, an appearance in the Eastern finals in 2012 and now an unprotected first-round pick.

Rivers leaves as the third-winningest coach in Celtics history, with 416 regular-season victories. Only Red Auerbach (910-450) and Tommy Heinsohn (427-263) have more wins. Rivers also compiled a 58-46 record in the playoffs.

“We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers coaching,” said Ainge. “He did an unbelievable job. He has a long history of success with us in the last nine years, and we wish him the best in Los Angeles.

“I don’t think there should be resentment,” Ainge proclaimed. “I know how Boston fans are and all that, but I really don’t feel like there should be resentment. This may be good for everybody. This may be a win-win. Time will tell.”

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Doc Rivers to Clippers official; Celtics to hold press conference at 6:30

06.25.13 at 5:38 pm ET
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The Celtics made the conclusion of a long coaching saga official, announcing that the team had permitted Doc Rivers to walk away from the final three years (and $21 million) of his deal to coach the Clippers in exchange for a future first-round pick. Celtics GM Danny Ainge will address the media in a press conference at the team’s practice facility in Waltham at 6:30 p.m.

According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (via twitter), the deal prohibits any player trades between the Celtics and Clippers until after the 2013-14 season — something that would prevent the C’s from dealing Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce directly to the Clippers.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Gonzaga C Kelly Olynyk

06.25.13 at 5:13 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2013 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their lone selection at No. 16.

Kelly Olynyk (AP)

Kelly Olynyk broke out with a stellar 2012-13 season after seeing limited playing time his first two years at Gonzaga and then redshirting as a junior. (AP)

KELLY OLYNYK

Position: Center

School: Gonzaga

Age: 22

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 238 pounds

Achievements: All-America first team (2013), West Coast Conference Player of the Year (2013), All-WCC first team (2013), Academic All-America first team (2013)

Key 2012-13 stats: 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 blocks

What he brings: Olynyk boasts a well-rounded skill set, with his greatly improved skills in the post making him a threat in 2012-13 for the Bulldogs, despite not being overly athletic. Between his 62.9 percent success rate from the floor and 77.6 free throw shooting percentage, scoring was not a problem for the long-haired redshirt junior.

Most are not as keen on his rebounding and defending abilities. Olynyk registered more than twice as many turnovers (2.4) as he did blocks (1.1) per game this year. Two third of his 7.3 boards per game came at the defensive end. Additionally, some reports half-jokingly give Olynyk credit for being an extremely patient player as well, since he had to wait three seasons to get significant playing time.

Notes: After not seeing much action his first two seasons, Olynyk redshirted in 2011-12 before breaking out this past year, featuring a 63.1 shooting percentage. … He was forced to miss the first three games of the season for violating the school’s code of conduct. … He was a point guard until his junior year of high school and had a seven-inch growth spurt. … The Toronto-born Olynyk moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, when he was young after his father, Ken Olynyk, formerly a coach with Canada’s junior national team, became athletic director at a nearby college.

Recent articles:

Gonzaga product Kelly Olynyk has weight, scoring ability that OKC fans crave

USA Today: Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk lead Canada’s NBA future

Video: Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics, here’s an Olynyk highlight reel.

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Report: Celtics target Josh Smith pending Paul Pierce trade

06.25.13 at 1:52 pm ET
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The Celtics continue to be intrigued by the possibility of adding Hawks forward Josh Smith. (AP)

The Celtics continue to be intrigued by the possibility of adding Hawks forward Josh Smith. (AP)

If the Celtics can unload captain Paul Pierce to a team with enough cap space to absorb his $15.3 million contract next season — acquiring an equally hefty trade exception in return — Danny Ainge already has a sign-and-trade package prepared to offer the Hawks for unrestricted free agent Josh Smith, according to a Sporting News report.

The Bucks and Cavaliers have both been rumored among potential Pierce suitors, but the Celtics legend’s desire to play for a contender if he doesn’t stay in Boston remains an apparent hurdle for Ainge, who also reportedly wants a first-round pick back for Pierce.

Unless Ainge finds a trade destination for Pierce or both agree to extend the deadline, the C’s must decide by July 1 whether to pay Pierce his $15.3 million or cut him for $5 million against the cap.

While Sporting News reporter Sean Deveney‘s source did not divulge any details of a potential sign-and-trade deal for Smith, the Celtics would reportedly be willing to offer the athletic 27-year-old $15 million.

However, Smith could receive as much as $17.5 million on the open market from teams with the salary cap space (i.e., the Bucks, who sought Smith at the trade deadline), throwing yet another wrinkle into Ainge’s rebuilding plans this summer.

Of course, Smith and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo have been close friends since their days as roommates at Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Academy. The mercurial Hawks forward has admitted being “a little jealous” of Rondo’s Boston experience in addition to conceding that a trade to the C’s was “a possibility” in February.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Brazilian C Lucas Nogueira

06.25.13 at 12:51 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2013 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their lone selection at No. 16.

Lucas Nogueira (AP)

Lucas Nogueira is a presence in the paint who has some work to do developing the rest of his game. (AP)

LUCAS NOGUEIRA

Position: Center

Team: Asefa Estudiantes (Spain’s ACB League)

Age: 20

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 220 pounds

Key 2012-13 stats: 5.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 13.6 minutes

What he brings: Nogueira’s 7-foot, 5-inch wingspan makes him an excellent defensive player and has encouraged comparisons between him and Marcus Camby. While he has yet to fully develop into his frame, he is an excellent player in the paint and averaged 5.0 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes last season.

As a scorer, Nogueira is rather limited. While he is among the better finishers in the draft around the rim, he does not have a very good jump shot and does not handle the ball well. However, thanks to his size and length, he has a chance at scoring on any drive and dish opportunity by the basket.

Notes: Nogueira, who goes by the nickname “Bebe,” declared for the 2011 draft but eventually backed out. Therefore, he cannot back out of the 2013 draft.

Recent articles:

Hoops World: Lucas Nogueira: The Next Marcus Camby?

Pro Basketball Talk: Lucas Nogueira says he’s flexible on developing his skill set either in Europe or the NBA

Video: Here’s a look at Nogueira in action from this past season.

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Irish Coffee: Top 10 reasons Celtics should hire Antoine Walker

06.25.13 at 11:48 am ET
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Antoine Walker wants to be the next coach of the Boston Celtics.

 

No, seriously, Antoine Walker wants to be the next coach of the Boston Celtics.

“I want to be back in the game, I love the game and am a student of the game,” he told The Boston Globe. “I want to stress seriously that I do want to become a coach … there’s a lot of guys starting to get opportunities and so the league is getting younger coaches. Obviously I’m lacking in experience but we’ve all got to start from somewhere.”

OK, then. I guess these would be the Top 10 reasons the Celtics should hire Antoine Walker.

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