|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.
|Danny Ainge: ‘We don’t feel any urgency’ to find the next coach as part of busy offseason||06.25.13 at 11:10 pm ET|
But deep down the president of basketball operations of the Celtics knows that next month will be a challenging one for him and his staff as they try to juggle finding the right coach with the NBA draft on Thursday with free agency, the Paul Pierce question, the Kevin Garnett dilemma and the Rajon Rondo factor.
That’s a lot for general manager who hasn’t had to search for a head coach in nine seasons.
‘I do watch coaches often as I travel around and scout NBA games and college games and so forth, so I do have some people in mind,’ Ainge told reporters Tuesday. ‘But because I haven’t had any contact or really had any consulting with my staff on all of this, I’m not really prepared at this time to address any of those questions.
‘The only wrinkle [to our off-season] now is that we need to get a new coaching staff, and we don’t feel any urgency with that. We don’t need a coach before the draft, we don’t need a coach before summer league. We don’t need that to happen fast, so we’ll take our time and look, unless our No. 1 choice makes a quick choice.’
Ainge needs to decide by next Monday if he is going to try and trade Pierce, buy out his $5 million option or have him stay.
Ainge is also reportedly busy consummating a sign-and-trade for Atlanta’s talented but sometimes inconsistent forward Josh Smith.
There’s the question of what to do with Garnett and Rondo. Does Garnett want to even be around in Boston without Rivers and with the franchise facing a rebuild? How will Rondo work out with the next head coach? Are they really pieces Ainge wants to build the future of the team around?
So many questions to be answered in the next several weeks.
One thing Ainge has going for him is a growing supply of picks. The trade of Doc Rivers to the Clippers gives the Celtics an unprotected first-round pick in 2015.
‘It’s an unprotected pick. You never know what can happen,’ Ainge told the media. ‘There’s been all sorts of circumstances that have happened in our league. To get an unprotected pick is very difficult to get in our league.’ ‘It’s an unprotected pick. You never know what can happen,’ Ainge told the media. ‘There’s been all sorts of circumstances that have happened in our league. To get an unprotected pick is very difficult to get in our league.’
The Celtics now have eight former first-round draft picks under contract for next season who are all under the age of 28.
And with the Clippers’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft, Boston now has 13 picks over the next five NBA drafts. Six of those picks (their own five, plus L.A.’s) will be in the first round. The C’s also possess two second-round picks in the 2014, 2015 and 2017 NBA Drafts, as well as one second-rounder in 2016. All in all, the Celtics, according to NetsDaily.com, are one of seven NBA teams to own all of their first-round picks in the next six drafts.
So, Ainge has plenty of reason to be grateful to Rivers, one NBA title, another Eastern Conference championship, an appearance in the Eastern finals in 2012 and now an unprotected first-round pick.
Rivers leaves as the third-winningest coach in Celtics history, with 416 regular-season victories. Only Red Auerbach (910-450) and Tommy Heinsohn (427-263) have more wins. Rivers also compiled a 58-46 record in the playoffs.
‘We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers coaching,’ said Ainge. ‘He did an unbelievable job. He has a long history of success with us in the last nine years, and we wish him the best in Los Angeles.
‘I don’t think there should be resentment,’ Ainge proclaimed. ‘I know how Boston fans are and all that, but I really don’t feel like there should be resentment. This may be good for everybody. This may be a win-win. Time will tell.’
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.
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?'”
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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