Danny Ainge said at a Tuesday press conference that it was Rivers’ idea to leave, dismissing reports that the Celtics initiated the change. Grousbeck concurred and said he’s sorry to see Rivers go.
“I would say a little disappointment,” Grousbeck said. “I’m where Danny was, and he clearly expressed it, which is we thought we’d be here for this five-year term with Doc. He was, as Danny said, he talked to Doc about staying and having longevity. And nine years is a long time, there’s no question. But 12 years is longer. So, we were planning for the long term with Doc because we think he’s one of those foundational guys.
“It was a good run, a couple of [NBA] Finals  appearances. But it was not our idea.”
Grousbeck said Rivers’ decision was not shocking, as the parties have been talking for “three or four weeks,” but it was difficult to accept.
“It’s not a bolt out of the blue, it’s an ongoing discussion,” he said. “And it finally got to the point where he said, ‘Maybe it’s time.’ And we, over a period of time, ended up agreeing with him.”
Grousbeck insisted he has no animosity toward Rivers for wanting a different challenge at this stage.
“I talked to Doc the other day. I said, ‘Look, we’re all square. You’ve given us your heart and soul for nine years; we’ve given you a lot of support. I feel great about it. And I took some of your money on the golf course, buddy. So, we’re all good.’
“But I don’t feel he owes us more. I don’t feel he owes us the next three years. I think he’s entitled to take a look at the next three years. And he left in a way and on terms that got us some benefit back. So, I don’t feel misused or that we’re not even. I think we’re even. I just would have been willing to go forward with Doc. And now that we’re not — actually, it’s energized Danny. He’s got a list of coaching candidates — which we’re not going to discuss today. But he’s got a list of guys. He’s got a new spring in his step. And it’s energized Danny to rebuild, which is what’s necessary.”
Added Grousbeck: “I think Doc and we are even. I think those nine years, if you had told me this is how the nine years were going to go when we signed him, I would have been thrilled. I’m very happy with how it went. And we’re even.”
Grousbeck acknowledged that the Celtics are entering a period of rebuilding, but he said it’s a challenge he’s looking forward to.
“Building these things is why we’re here,” he said. “We’re not here just to enjoy the years when everything goes right. When you own a team, what you’re asking to do is have the right to build it and be proud of it when it goes well. So, we’ve got some building to do. And it’s going to start now. That doesn’t mean everybody’s gone. It means we’re looking at what we have and looking hard at it and figuring out who’s going to coach the team and who’s going to be playing for the team.
“But this is actually the fun part. If you look at Danny and hear Danny, he’s pretty fired up about it. We’ve got a good thing going here, and we’re going to keep it going.”
Added Grousbeck: “I think we’re going to have a decent team in the near future, and I think we have a very, very good general manager who can get us back there.”
There have been reports that Rivers might have gotten fed up with point guard Rajon Rondo . According to one recent report, Rivers almost got into a fistfight with the player. Grousbeck played down those reports.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the locker room that’s not reported,” Grousbeck said. “Anything to do with Rondo and Doc is just one of many incidents that happened in the 10 years we’ve been here, all around the league.
“I am belittling it, I guess, but there it is. I’m belittling it. I don’t think that has much to do with this. I think Doc wanted to coach the Clippers roster and have a better chance near term of a ring. I don’t think he wanted to rebuild with us I think he wanted to make his win-loss record better. And that’s what it is with coaches. They’re talent. They’re not management. Coaches are talent. They’re basically players who have retired. And certainly in Doc’s case he’s a player, he retired as a player, he became a coach, and he’s very conscious of right here and now. Whereas Danny and we are looking to the future, and that’s our job.”