The separation between Doc Rivers and the Celtics was anything but a clean break.
The back-and-forth about an on-again, off-again deal that would land Boston some compensation for letting him out of his contract to join the Clippers dragged on publicly for far too long, before Rivers eventually landed in Los Angeles, albeit with sore feelings on both sides.
Now that the dust has settled and the season is upon us, Rivers has come clean and admitted what we all believed to be the case: that he had no desire, and perhaps no intention of remaining in Boston to head up the rebuilding effort as previously promised.
“It dragged out to a point where there were bound to be hurt feelings,” Rivers said. “The truth was this: I really didn’t want to go through a rebuild. I’ve been through three – when I first got to Orlando, and then when Grant Hill went down again. And I had been through one in Boston. It’s easy to say, ‘Just do it,’ but for a coach, it’s brutal. Showing up, getting your ass kicked, it’s brutal.”
“It takes a lot out of you. At the end of the year, when we lost, I had full intentions of doing it. The more I kept thinking about it, I knew it wasn’t in me again. At least not there again.
“But when the deal first fell apart, I told [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], ‘I’ll coach again here, I’ll come back.’ And then, a day later, I told him: I don’t know if I can. That’s how wishy-washy I was. But when I said that, Danny said, “OK, let me get back to work and get this thing done.'”
What bothers Celtics fans about all of this is that Rivers knew a rebuild was on the horizon when he signed his five-year contract extension back in May of 2011.
It was obvious then that he had only two or three more years with his veteran core before the franchise would have to make changes, and while the nuclear option was something he probably didn’t see coming this quickly, Rivers had to know that the last couple of years on his deal would involve coaching a team that was no longer positioned to contend for a title.