Danny Ainge didn’t sound like a happy man.
It’s not anything he said directly, just the overall tone of his discussion with the media on Tuesday (which was streamed live) left the impression he thought Doc Rivers would be back to coach the Celtics this year.
“We sent him a letter saying that we expected him to be our coach and to fulfill his contract, to be our coach for three more years,” Ainge said. “That was our intention all along. That’s what we hoped he would do.”
That’s not what happened. Rivers saw a tough year in Boston followed by a rebuild, and in Los Angeles he saw a 56-win team, a division winner with room to grow. And he was interested.
“We had a conversation, him and I, as friends and partners the last nine years… we discussed the possibility of him getting the Clippers job,” Ainge recalled. “There were other teams that were interested in hiring Doc that we didn’t allow them to talk to Doc, that had inquired. But the Clippers was one that intrigued him a bit. I’m sure their young talent had a lot to do with that.”
It was clear as you watched Ainge that this pained him some — he and Rivers had a close relationship. Rivers was ready to move on, but Ainge clearly didn’t think that had to happen in the coaching ranks. But it did.
“He felt like it was time for a change,” Ainge said. “His opinion he shared with me, he felt like we all needed a change. That was his rationalization or justification. I don’t really feel like there should be resentment.”
Now, Rivers is coaching Chris Paul (once he re-signs, and he will) and the Clippers. So who is going to coach the Celtics?
“I’ve done that gig. I’m done with that,” Ainge said.
He dodged questions about who might be a replacement. He also dodged questions about the future of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Boston..
“I love Paul and KG,” Ainge said when asked if either would be back next season. “We haven’t made a decision on that. I’m not certain on any one of those decisions.”