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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘Disappointed’ in Danny Ainge’s portrayal of his Celtics departure

09.05.13 at 10:04 am ET
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Doc Rivers has Clippers fever!

Doc Rivers has Clippers fever! (AP)

It’s been more than two months since Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge played the blame game over how exactly the former Celtics coach landed in Los Angeles in exchange for an unprotected 2015 first-round pick from the Clippers.

Ainge claimed it was ultimately Doc’s decision.

Rivers presented it as part of the Celtics plan.

“Honestly, I was very disappointed in that part of Danny’s press conference,” Rivers said during an appearance on Dennis & Callahan to promote September’s Hoop Dreams event at TD Garden to benefit Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). “Other than that, Danny and I have no issues. Danny knows, just like I know, that that’s not true.

“Listen, guys, this is old stuff. I’m here, and Danny’s in Boston. You can ask Danny that more and more, but there were two people in that room, and it was Danny and I, and anyone else who has a comment about what went on doesn’t really know because they weren’t in that room. It was more than one day. It was several days, and it was an agreement.”

Regardless, Rivers and the Celtics president of basketball operations are still in communication. ”We’ve had our disagreements when I was there, and we’ve moved on,” added Rivers. “That was a disagreement on how that was presented. Danny knows that, and I know the truth, but you move on and we’ve talked many times since.”

Whether or not Rivers is to blame, one thing is clear: He no longer enjoys the untouchable status he achieved after leading the Celtics to the 2008 title, the 2010 NBA Finals and the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

“When guys leave, there are people who understand and people who don’t,” said Rivers. “I’ve been a fan of teams, and people take it personal when they leave, and it is personal to them. And I get that. I have no issues with that. It was a very difficult situation for me, and I’m sure it was a difficult situation for Danny as well.”

In fact, Rivers admitted that dour look on his face during his introductory Clippers presser was there for a reason.

“I was in Boston for nine years, and it was a wonderful run,” he said. “We did some great things on the court, but the tough part for me was leaving Boston. Obviously, leaving the Celtics was hard, but I didn’t just fall in love with the Celtics. I fell in love with the city of Boston. You have to make changes sometimes in your life, and I was in a position at the time where I thought it was the time to do that. Does that make it easy? No. Moving is hard, and moving is really hard when you already love where you’re living.”

Still, Rivers perpetuates all the confusion by denying it was his decision to leave and then expressing again that he felt it was time for a change. Which one is it? And the fact remains Rivers left for L.A. with three years remaining on his five-year, $35 million Celtics contract.

“I signed the deal because at the time it was the right thing to do,” said Rivers. “I was going to be a free agent. Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] had three and four years left on their contracts with Ray [Allen], and at that time I wasn’t thinking about going anywhere else, but I was thinking about taking a break. I just didn’t think it was the right thing to do to the organization, so I signed that deal more for that than I did thinking about what happens three or four years from now.”

Actually, when Rivers signed his deal in 2011, both Garnett and Allen had one year remaining on their deals and Pierce had two years with a team option left on his contract. In other words, the coach had to have known a rebuild was coming. In fact, he admitted to believing his Celtics tenure would outlast Pierce’s.

“It’s something I didn’t want to do,” said Rivers. “I’ve rebuilt three times, and that’s a lot for a coach. I don’t think you completely understand it. It’s extremely hard to do. Going through it once in Orlando – really twice in Orlando because once Grant Hill was injured we had to do it again – and in Boston, that’s my third time doing it. That’s hard, and I really didn’t want to do it, but would I have done it? Yes. I told Danny that I would do it.”

Let’s get this straight: He wanted a change and didn’t want to rebuild, but it wasn’t his decision to leave. Is that it?

“I had no plans on leaving,” said Rivers. “It was not something that I sat around thinking about. In the middle of the season or even at the end of the season, it was the furthest thing from my mind that I was going to not be the Celtics coach.”

Well, then, aren’t you glad we cleared all this up? Anyhow, Doc addressed a few other issues of note.

On Kevin Garnett: “I just thought it was a tough one for him. You guys don’t know Kevin. If he has one fault — and there are not a lot of them as a player — he doesn’t really allow a lot of people to get to know him, and Kevin hates change. Hates it. He’s extremely loyal, and at the end of the day he felt like Paul was gone, I was gone, Jason Terry was leaving and that he was doing it for the right reasons. Not necessarily that he wanted to go, he just thought that this is something that Danny wanted. Danny wanted to rebuild and reload, and he just felt like he was doing the right thing. I don’t know if he necessarily wanted to go, but he went, and now when you talk to him he’s excited. He’s excited about his new team and he really believes they have a chance of knocking Miami off in the East.”

On Rajon Rondo’s return: “I have [spoken to him]. I don’t know that answer. I really don’t. I talked to all the players. Sully [Jared Sullinger] and Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, but with Rondo I don’t know. I know he’s working hard, and that’s one of things he told me. He’s never worked harder in his life. I don’t know if you guys have ever had that injury. I have. You have to work that hard to come back. That’s a hard injury — not to come back from — it’s just a hard injury to do the rehab. When he comes back, he’ll be 100 percent. It’s just going to take time.”

On Brad Stevens: “He hasn’t coached in the NBA, but he’s a really, really good, solid coach. Brad and I had talked actually before he’d taken the Celtics job, and it was obviously about another job, and he just wanted to know my thoughts: Should he come to the NBA? And I told him, ‘Absolutely.’ I think he’s got the right makeup. And not to say every college coach does or doesn’t, but I can tell you I think he does. He’s not one of those coaches who thinks it’s all about him. And I just think if you’ve watched his teams play and his demeanor he’ll be a very, very good NBA coach.”

To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers
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