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Doc Rivers on D&C, 10/6

10.06.09 at 11:38 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers appeared on Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to discuss the team’s preseason preparations as the C’s get set to play the Houston Rockets in Hidaglo, Texas, on Wednesday night.

Following is a complete transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

rivers_docDo you worry about your guys … when you make a trip like that [to Hidalgo, Texas, on the Mexico border]?

I worry more about [Greg] Dickerson doing it than our players. I’m hoping he actually goes and we can steal his passport so he can’t come back.

No, you do worry about it. Guys like going over and having fun or whatever. We have great guys, and we’ll talk to them about it so you’re not that concerned. But you’d rather [they] not be there, let’s put it that way.

Give us several significant highlights to camp at this point. What are we missing here so far?

I think Rasheed [Wallace] and Marquis Daniels, they really have solidified our bench. It’s a veteran bench, very similar to two years ago. Rasheed’s ability to stretch the floor will be amazing when he plays with [Kendrick Perkins] or Kevin [Garnett], it doesn’t really matter which one he plays with, he still stretches the floor, he has the ability to take 5s out. And Marquis Daniels, he’s really good for our team. He’s a small forward, he plays 2 guard as well. From his position, he can handle the ball, and that frees up Eddie [House]. The old point forward — if you remember the Paul Pressey days in Milwaukee, where he handled the ball, and then Sidney Moncrief and Marques Johnson and those guys came off picks. Well, it will be very similar to us with the second team.

Is Rasheed going to be beloved here in Boston?

Yeah. The one thing we knew about Rasheed was the fact that his teammates that he’s played for loved him. He’s always been a great teammate. He’s one of the more verbal talkers on defense in the league — him and Kevin. And it’s amazing. During camp, I have a lot of college coaches come in and they watch camp. And that’s the one thing they keep saying is — well, there’s two things: “Boy, your bigs have a chance to be really good.” The second thing is, “I’ve never seen a team talk as much on defense, especially Rasheed, Perk and Kevin.” So, those are the things they’ll notice. But they’ll love him. I’m sure there will be a couple of nights where he’ll get into an exchange with someone else in stripes, and we’re going to have to deal with that. But that’s not going to be an issue, in my opinion.

Wallace seems like he can get mad, lose his temper, and still play well, still be at the top of his game. Is that accurate?

Yeah, that is. You can get distracted as well, and sometimes I think he does get distracted. But for the most part, absolutely. I think him and Kevin are very similar in that way. They play on the edge, and it’s what drives them, it’s their fuel in some ways. Obviously, there’s a line you cross, you don’t want them to go over that, but you do want them to play with that emotion. That’s part of his makeup.

Can you take us back to the day that Rasheed Wallace as a Celtic became a real possibility?

I thought that he wanted to become a Celtic. I heard rumors throughout the season that it was us, San Antonio, Orlando — teams he was telling all his teammates that he would like to play for. But I thought the [recruiting] trip was really important. I thought it was needed by us. Rasheed was going to take visits to San Antonio and to Orlando. He had them planned.  Our thought going into this was, ‘We can’t let him get on that plane. You know, you go there, it’s warm, no state taxes in ether place … I just thought we had to make a great impact on him. And I can tell you when I left the meeting that day, I thought we had him. But you’re still worried until he actually signs a contract.

How did the presentation go? Was it scripted or ad-libbed?

It was ad-libbed. I started out talking to him, then Danny [Ainge] joined in. Wyc [Grousbeck] left the room and went to talk to the agent. It was just me and the three players, and I really backed out of it, I let the players to do the talking. Kevin, as you know, led the talking and was very powerful in what he was saying about team and our goals. And Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] were just as good. So, I didn’t have to do much, Danny didn’t have to do much, Wyc didn’t have to do much. I think the players sold Rasheed on the Celtics.

What is your sense on how much longer Rajon Rondo will be your point guard?

I think Rajon Rondo will be a lifetime Celtic. I really do. I think this process he’s gone through is the process all players go through at times. The maturity process is another thing that all players go through. I don’t think he’s behind in that department at all. I just think he’s young and he’s growing. So, I never had a black mark against him. For maturity issues, that’s part of his process of growing up, and he’s doing that. He’s been as good as anyone. In camp thus far he’s doing everything we ask him to do — and he usually does. I would be very surprised if he’s not a lifetime Celtic.

Is he one of those point guards who will develop an outside shot? Will he ever have 3-point range?

Yeah, he will. I don’t know that he will ever be a great 3-point shooter. But he’ll absolutely improve. When you look at his shot this year, he’s made some dramatic changes to it, it looks good, it’s going to go in, and it’s going to keep getting better. The thing I love about Rondo is, he’s going to put in the time. That kid works on his game. He traveled all summer back and forth to Atlanta, working with Mark Price. I think he’s done some great work and you can see it in his game. I don’t think anyone can go from an average to a great shooter, but they can become a pretty good shooter. And that’s all Rondo needs. If he can develop that mid-range jump shot and make the occasional 3, then he’s going to be tough to deal with.

When you have an aging team, when do you worry about the effects of age?

Every day. Every day in practice. During the season, obviously. You just don’t know with our group if it’s going to take shape or not. Our guys are in great shape. They always have been. That gives them a chance to play extended years. I like our group as far as being a quote-unquote older team. I think we have a good older team, and the fact that they’re a great-conditioned team, you know that will give them a chance of getting through the season healthy and strong.

I read where Ray Allen said: “I told myself during the summer I was going to be in the best shape I’ve ever been in.” I don’t recall those fat Ray Allen days. Do you?

Me either [laughing]. Maybe he had a hot dog once. Ray has almost zero body fat. He’s such a pro. And he understands that conditioning is the key. The older you get, the [better] condition you have to be in. And I think Ray gets that.

Are your concerns about Kevin’s knee alleviated completely? Are we over that?

I am. I think he’s fine. When you come back from an injury like that, or any injury where you miss an extended period of time, you’re more concerned about the other injuries that pop up coming back — hamstring pulls and things like that, tendinitis, which he’s actually having. So, those are the things you’re more concerned about. There are many concerns. You know there’s a possibility that it could take him out of a practice or even a game here or there. But overall, the best news from Kevin is that he has no knee pain. That’s great news. As a matter of fact, over the last two or three years, he’s had knee pain. But he has none [now]. So, that makes you feel great.

I assume the addition of Rasheed and Shelden Williams and Marquis Daniels allows you to even further monitor the minutes your guys are playing, mix and match and get guys rest to extend their viability throughout the course of the season. Fair to say?

Yeah, that is fair. You know, you have to careful with the rest, though. There’s a limit, if you know what I’m saying. If you play Paul Pierce let’s say 28 minutes a night, that’s probably not good for him. It doesn’t allow him to stay in rhythm and get done what he likes to get done on the floor. So, there’s a happy medium to that, too. Historically, if you look at all the great players who are [older than 30], they still stayed in that 35-minute area. And I think if you ask each one of them, they would even say higher. I’ve asked them, and they always say the 38[-minute] number, which I think is too much. So, we’re going to try to keep him at that 35, 33 number, and that would be terrific.

What did you tell your team you wanted to fix from last year — areas where you wanted to be better?

Well, it sounds strange to you, but I thought we could improve defensively, number one. I told them as good as we’ve been the last two years … Last year I felt we slipped a little bit. Obviously, once Kevin went down it had a big impact on it. I thought we had to refocus on being a great defensive team. The second thing I thought we had to do was take care of the basketball. And the third thing, I thought offensively, is share the ball more. I thought last year the ball stopped a lot. We held on to the ball to try to make our own play. If we just move the ball and play together and keep the floor spaced, offensively we’ll be in great shape. So, those are the three things. But at the end of the day, in any sport, the team has to be a team. When you bring in different guys, different chemistry guys, the whole key to your season is how quickly they can form into a team.

[Bill] Walker was ahead of [J.R.] Giddens last year, obviously. Is either of those guys going to be a big contributor this year. Who looks like they’re closer now?

Well, J.R. now because of Billy’s [right knee] injury. Billy being out eight weeks has really set him back. That’s a tough injury for a kid. He keeps having these little setbacks, and that obviously slows his growth. But it’s going to be tough right now for any of those guys to get on the floor. We’re pretty deep. We have good depth, great veterans. So it will be tough or them to get on the floor. I’m hoping they do. J.R. has a chance to be a terrific defender. He has to improve his offensive skills. He has to improve how to play with his offensive skills with other players. So that’s something he’s improving on. I think he’s much better than he was last year.

Does somebody even like Rasheed defer to the atmosphere that the Big Three has sort of defined in that locker room?

Well, the one thing Rasheed has always done is he’s been a great deferrer, to Rip [Hamilton], to Chauncey [Billups], to Tayshaun Prince in Detroit. He’s been an All-Star but he’s really been a great role player. His coaches — all of them, even the ones who he didn’t get along with — the one thing they all say to a man is he’s a great teammate as far as playing together and playing the right way. I think he’s been drilled in the Carolina way of playing basketball the right way. So, he’s easy in that department.

You’re not suggesting that in the clubhouse he’s a shy, retiring wallflower, are you?

[laughing] No, not at all. I don’t know if we have any of those guys. You look at our team, we have some pretty interesting personalities in our locker room with Ray and Paul and Kevin and Rondo and Eddie House and Rasheed and Big Baby [Glen Davis]. It’s a lively locker room, and I kind of like it that way.

[Shaquille O'Neal] in Cleveland — is there a downside to this? Can he disrupt things in Cleveland … or are they clearly the favorite going into this year because of Shaq?

Let’s hope he does. That would be terrific. That would do most of our work. I think Cleveland has probably had the best summer as far as personnel. And the reason I’m saying that is not because of Shaq. I think the Anthony Parker addition and the Jamario Moon addition has really helped their basketball team. And then the Shaq addition as well. I always look at how that affects us as well. With Shaq, obviously, he’s a load to guard. On the other end, it will be interesting. Will that help us or hurt us? That’s something we’ll have to wait and see.

Does Baby’s role change significantly this year?

Not really. His minutes probably will change, obviously. They’ll probably be similar to what they were before Kevin was hurt. Baby just has to keep growing, keep maturing as a person on and off the floor. Offensively, we want him to do the same things, make the open shot. He will roll to the post more when he’s paying with Rasheed, because we want Rasheed pulling guys away from the bucket and when he gets a mismatch going back to the post. So, in that way it will. We want to limit Baby’s turnovers. He was a high-turnover guy at times last year when he tried to do too much. We want to convince Baby he doesn’t have to do too much, If the shot’s open, take it. If it’s not, move the ball.

Do you have to go campaign for the boss [Steve Pagliuca] as he runs for the Senate here?

I don’t know. I’m happy he’s doing it. I think he’s doing it for the right reason. Unfortunately for Pags, I don’t know if he has a lot of registered voters with the Celtics players. A lot of them live in different places.

I’d like to see Big Baby out there … holding a sign at the polls. That might be kind of intimidating.

If we need intimidation to get Pags elected, I think Pags has a great shot at it. Because we have some guys that can absolutely intimidate. Especially Baby.

Read More: Big Baby, Bill Walker, Celtics, Doc Rivers
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