|Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Celtics’ Brad Stevens hiring ‘not a risk’||07.08.13 at 10:26 am ET|
ESPN/ABC basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Celtics‘ offseason maneuverings.
The C’s pulled off a surprise move last week when they named Butler’s Brad Stevens their new coach.
“I think he’s a great, great basketball coach,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think there will be too big an adjustment — or too big of an adjustment basketball-wise. This guy is really, really smart. I think their players will respect his confidence, his sincerity, his reliability and his trustworthiness. He’s a quality person and coach.
“Now, the difference is, you’re going to lose some, and maybe a lot, depending on the construction of the roster. That, coupled with the length of a season, is always a challenge in the NBA when you go through a rebuilding situation. But I think his demeanor and his poise, along with his contract, will serve him well through the rebuilding situation.”
Added Van Gundy: “I honestly think that this is not a risk. People say it’s a risk. I don’t think it’s a risk for anybody. When Brad Stevens is done with the Celtics in six years, 10 years, 15 years, he can always go back and get a great, great college job. And for the Celtics, it’s not a risk because this guy’s a great person and a great basketball coach. How they do record-wise over his tenure there is going to be not based on his coaching ability. His coaching ability will be fine. It’s going to be their roster. Can they get him a good enough roster to work with and win with? If they do, they’ll win there.”
Asked if he or his brother Stan were contacted about the Celtics’ opening, Van Gundy said: “I have no idea about my brother. I know I wasn’t. Hey, listen, I have such respect for the Celtics that anybody would be interested if the Celtics call. They just have a great, obviously, history, they have great ownership, they have great management. So, anybody would be interested.”
As the Celtics head into a rebuilding period, Van Gundy warned that people need to avoid becoming impatient as the long season wears on.
“There’s very few people — teams, fan bases, organizations, coaches, players — who really have the stomach for a long rebuild,” he said. “It sounds good in theory. But Boston was tiring of rebuilding until Danny Ainge pulled off the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett trades. No one likes losing 18 straight games. This is where I thought Doc Rivers took unnecessary criticism. That he didn’t want to go through a long rebuild? He’d already done that. He’d already gone through that purgatory time in Boston. So, that he wouldn’t want to redo it again in Boston? I completely understand.
“There’s got to be a stomach for this rebuilding. And it really starts with the media, the management, the ownership. Because they’re so used to winning, that this may be a period of mediocrity. It may be that 41-40 record last year, that may be the norm. Or maybe they get a few more wins or maybe they get a few less wins, or maybe a lot less wins. You can’t just believe that in theory. You’ve got to be able to live through the dreary nights that are coming to the Boston Garden. And accept that this is part of the NBA, that you can’t stay great forever.
“I think that’s going to be the toughest adjustment for everybody. They’re coming off such a great period of winning, where they had the ultimate competitors in Garnett and [Paul] Pierce. So, to see them go, to see them go into the Eastern Conference. The whole thing is going to be difficult. And that’s where I think Brad’s demeanor will really help him. He’ll focus on trying to get better every day, incremental improvement. And if he can do that, I think he will have fulfilled his obligation to the Celtics very, very well.”
|Doc Rivers: ‘I was just getting tired’ of Bill Simmons’ criticism||06.28.13 at 1:45 pm ET|
Rivers objected to Simmons repeatedly saying he quit on the rebuilding Celtics, and said: “‘I would like to call him an idiot, but I’m too classy for that. That’s just his opinion. That didn’t happen. He really needs to know the whole truth, which he doesn’t.’
A day later, Rivers wasn’t backing down.
“Bill’s a fan,” Rivers told Patrick. “Is he qualified to do the NBA? Well, we can debate that all day. But Bill’s a fan. And I get that. Not a friend of mine or a fan of mine, and he never has been. I rarely respond. You know that. I don’t do it very often. But I’d just kind of had enough of that. I thought it kind of ruined the broadcast last night, ’cause he kept bringing it up. It was almost like he had an agenda. I was just getting tired of it.”
While acknowledging he fared well by moving to the Clippers, Rivers said the Celtics had a strategy and they stuck to it.
“I think last night happened exactly the way Danny the Celtics wanted it to,” he said. “They wanted to unload contracts for draft picks, and I happened to be one of those contracts.”
Added Rivers: “Clearly, yeah, I had a selfish motive. I had a chance to not rebuild and go to a team that is in a different phase of their franchise so everybody benefited. And I clearly, at least I hope, I benefited from it. But this is done together. This is not me walking into the Celtics and saying I quit or anything like that.”
Doc Rivers was part of the dismantling of the Celtics, but he insists his departure for the Clippers was not an indication of him quitting on a rebuilding team, despite the fact that team president Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck have said that it was Rivers’ idea to consider a change after nine seasons on the Boston bench.
Asked at Thursday’s NBA draft for a response to ESPN’s Bill Simmons saying he quit on the C’s, Rivers dismissed the comment.
“I would like to call him an idiot, but I’m too classy for that,” Rivers told ESPN’s Shelley Smith. “That’s just his opinion. That didn’t happen. He really needs to know the whole truth, which he doesn’t.”
Responded Simmons, who was part of ESPN’s team at the draft: “The truth keeps changing. I mean, he’s given different quotes about this — he didn’t know, he did know, he kind of knew, he wanted the trade to happen, he was coming back, he needed a year off. When he sticks to his story, I’ll believe the truth.”
Added Simmons: “Just own it. Just admit what you did. The writing was on the wall, the Celtics wanted to rebuild, you didn’t want to be a part of it, you wanted to go to the Clippers, and it happened. Just own what you did.”
Rivers’ son Jeremiah, who played last season with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League, took to Twitter to defend his father, tweeting multiple messages at Simmons. Wrote Jeremiah:
My father has never quit anything in his life. He now has an NBA Championship, and helped in rejuvenating the Celtics.
You know nothing about winning, about sacrifice, and being a champion. You sit behind a desk and pick on people.
You are an Internet bully. There is a reason nobody will side with you. They like my dad better than you.
If you don’t have all the facts, which you clearly DON’T, I suggest you sit down and shut up. Good day sir.
|Fact or fiction: Doc Rivers’ odd call to Boston media||06.26.13 at 8:41 pm ET|
So much for Doc Rivers not disputing Danny Ainge‘s take on the former Celtics coach’s departure to the Clippers. Two hours after telling the media in Los Angeles the only reason he’s coaching “is to win titles,” Rivers spun around in circles on a lengthy teleconference with reporters in Boston.
While Rivers should be lauded for his willingness to discuss his professional life and a decision he had every right to make — even interrupting the Clippers public relations staff when they tried to stop the call with “two more questions” — the 27-minute interview can only be described as confusing after Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck shared similar opinions the last 24 hours about how it all went down.
So, let’s try to separate fact from fiction one quote at a time (thoughts in italics).
|Doc Rivers: Winning titles is ‘only reason I’m coaching’||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.
|Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: ‘We’re all square’ with Doc Rivers, although ‘it was not our idea’ for him to leave||at 9:37 am ET|
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.”
|Danny Ainge tells his side of the Doc Rivers saga||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.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason