|Doc Rivers: Winning titles is ‘only reason I’m coaching’||06.26.13 at 3:39 pm ET|
As the Clippers introduced new vice president of basketball operations and coach Doc Rivers, he sat stone-faced for most of the press conference, offering no objection to former Celtics colleague Danny Ainge‘s version of events the past two weeks.
“Quite honestly,” said Rivers from L.A., “at this point in my life, that’s the only reason I’m coaching — is to try and win titles.”
After watching him coach in Boston for nine seasons, it was strange hearing Rivers using “we” and “us” when referencing the Clippers, but clearly he’s moved on from a team he no longer believed to be a contender. As C’s owner Wyc Grousbeck said Wednesday morning, “I don’t think he wanted to rebuild with us; I think he wanted to make his win-loss record better.”
Over the past 24 hours, Ainge and Grousbeck both stated their desire for Rivers to fulfill the three years remaining on his coaching contract in Boston, and Rivers never actually disputed their claims, although he deflected a bit.
“After the year, I had no plans of leaving and didn’t give it a lot of thought, honestly,” said Rivers. “After every year — and Danny knows me as well as anyone — I put everything I can into a season, and then, if you ask me immediately after the season, I’m not coming back. I’m going home. I’m just burnt out. I’m tired.
“This lasted a little longer, and so when Danny and I talked, I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and we just basically sat around as a team and talked about what’s the best way at that time to improve the Celtics, and we went into talking about different scenarios. A couple other teams came up, and Danny talked about assets — me and Kevin Garnett at the time — and then the name Clippers came up, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s interesting,’ and you’d be amazed how — from that point on — I really kind of stepped back. Danny kind of did the talking and would report back to me. I didn’t talk to you or anybody, so I was kind of left out. It was really interesting.
“One thing I would like to make clear: There were never any threats. ‘If you don’t get me here, I’m not doing this.’ ‘I’m not coming back.’ There was never any of that. It was just kind of a negotiation with Danny and [Clippers president] Andy Roeser, and if it all worked out, then I would consider it. That’s basically where it went to, and the closer we got to this thing actually happening is the more I got interested in it.”
Still, both Rivers and Ainge believed they would continue working together until early this week.
|Danny Ainge tells his side of the Doc Rivers saga||06.26.13 at 12:39 am ET|
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.
|Report: Celtics target Josh Smith pending Paul Pierce trade||06.25.13 at 1:52 pm ET|
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.
|Irish Coffee: Top 10 reasons Celtics should hire Antoine Walker||06.25.13 at 11:48 am ET|
Boston fans its time for me to be the celtics coach !!!!
‘ Antoine Walker (@WalkerAntoine8) June 24, 2013
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.
|Jeff Green: ‘I’m happy for’ Doc Rivers||06.24.13 at 5:20 pm ET|
While admitting he returned to Boston in hopes of playing four years under coach Doc Rivers, Celtics forward Jeff Green told ESPN.com, “I can’t speak for the other guys, but I’m not angry at all. I’m happy for him.”
Green first met Doc while teammates with the coach’s eldest son Jeremiah Rivers at Georgetown University. Green reportedly feels “absolutely no animosity,” but the 26-year-old understands if his teammates harbor ill will after the Celtics released Rivers from the three years and $21 million left on his contract in exchange for a first-round NBA draft pick from the Clippers.
Rivers is reportedly still in the process of reaching terms on a similar deal with Los Angeles. Green knows the NBA business well, having been a pawn in the C’s Kendrick Perkins trade to the Thunder two years ago.
‘The main reason I came back to Boston was because of Doc, but I understand things change,” Green added. “Not everything goes as planned. We had injuries, and some other things, that altered our team. You can’t predict the future. I really enjoyed playing for Doc. We have a great relationship. I’m sure some people will feel betrayed, but we all have to do what is best for us and our families. Whenever there’s a trade or a coach leaves, there’s always emotion. But then after a while we all move on and say, ‘What’s next?'”
|Irish Coffee: Top 18 coaches to replace Doc Rivers in Celtics search for Banner 18||06.24.13 at 8:00 am ET|
The Celtics and Clippers have reportedly reached a deal that will allow Doc Rivers to coach in L.A. next season in exchange for a unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft, pending league approval. So, the search begins to replace a coach that finished only 11 victories shy of tying Tommy Heinsohn for second behind Red Auerbach on the franchise’s wins list. Here are 18 candidates to lead the C’s to an 18th banner.
18. Kevin Garnett: Whether tongue-in-cheek or not, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Bill Doyle threw this one out there, suggesting Garnett could follow Rivers as a player-coach the way Bill Russell did Auerbach, but the advanced statistics, strategy and amount of game planning in today’s NBA make it a pipe dream.
17. Larry Bird: If the Celtics legend showed interest in the GM position for the Kings, what’s to say he wouldn’t consider a coaching position in the organization he resurrected as a player? Well, for one, he’d have to accept a scenario in which he answered to C’s president Danny Ainge, and secondly, he would command big money.
16. Byron Scott: Considering Scott appeared to be the Clippers’ fall-back option if they couldn’t get a deal done for Rivers, he’s a leading candidate among the NBA coaching retreads. However, the former Lakers standout has maintained a disdain for Boston in his coaching career, and the feeling is probably mutual.
|Report: Celtics finally send Doc Rivers to Clippers||06.23.13 at 6:45 pm ET|
The Clippers will send an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft to the C’s in exchange for releasing Rivers from the three years and $21 million remaining on his contract, per Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. Rivers will reportedly receive the same deal to coach in Los Angeles.
Rivers and Celtics president Danny Ainge have tentatively scheduled a noon press conference on Monday, at which point the two are expected to explain the drama that led to their breakup after nine seasons together.
According to MacMullan, Rivers and Ainge worked side-by-side to reach a deal with the Clippers that benefits both the Celtics and Doc’s desire to avoid a lengthy rebuilding process. C’s ownership also reportedly was not wild about paying Rivers $7 million annually to coach a rebuilding team.
Talks between the C’s and Clippers were dubbed dead several times this past week — once when the NBA refused to allow a deal involving Rivers and any package of players, and then again when the Clippers insisted upon not sending anything beyond a second-round pick in exchange for Rivers.
However, discussion between the two sides heated up again on Sunday, when Chris Paul pressured L.A. to concede in sending a first-round selection to Boston, according to reports from Yahoo! and The Boston Globe.
Considering NBA commissioner David Stern‘s recent comments, another deal that would have sent Kevin Garnett to the Clippers in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and another first-round pick still appears dead. After a week of highly publicized negotiations involving the two teams, it will be nearly impossible for Ainge to convince the league office that a deal involving Garnett isn’t linked to the proposed Rivers deal.
Still, Ainge is seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Paul Pierce, according to MacMullan, and The Globe relayed “better-than-average interest” in the 35-year-old Celtics captain. The C’s would also reportedly be open to picking up Pierce’s $15.3 million option for next season and shopping him at the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, Garnett has two years and $24.4 million left on his deal, and his no-trade clause further limits Ainge’s options in finding another destination outside Los Angeles for his 37-year-old center.
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