SAN ANTONIO — The waiting game continues for the Celtics, who remain unsure if head coach Doc Rivers will be back next season.
A league source told CSNNE.com on Monday that Rivers' decision on whether he will return will not be based solely on whether Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett are back in next season. Rivers' hesitation to verbally commit to next season has more to do with his uncertainty as to what type of team Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, will give him to coach.
"No coach wants to go through a full-blown rebuilding process," said the source. "Doc's already done that, so he knows how tough that is for all involved. But to be asked to go through it twice? Any coach would pause for a minute before signing on to that."
Rivers' first year in Boston ended with the C's eliminated in the first round of the 2005 playoffs (the same point in which the 2012-13 campaign ended for the Celtics). What followed was a two-year decline that hurt in terms of wins, but allowed the C's to acquire assets that were ultimately cashed in for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
The end result -- Boston's 17th NBA title in 2008 -- certainly took away some of the pain that the Celtics endured during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when the team won a combined 59 games.
But Rivers went through that process because, frankly, he didn't have much of a choice. After things went south in a hurry in Orlando and the C's struggled in his early years, there were legitimate concerns about whether Rivers was a good coach.
The championship season, and the deep playoff runs that followed, changed both the outlook in Boston and the way Rivers was perceived as a coach.
A number of teams have expressed interest in him recently, among them the Brooklyn Nets who were denied permission to speak with him about their coaching vacancy.
Rebuilding is tough on everyone, but especially coaches, who have a front-row seat to the drama and problems that unfold almost daily. The last thing Rivers wants to do at this point in his coaching career is go back to the days when the competition in practice was better than it was in games because players were willing to fight for minutes more than they were willing to fight for each other.
Sure those early teams weren't very good, but they had a lot of young talent that interested other teams. That's not the case with this current crop of Celtics. The roster is full of players who are in odd places in their careers.
Many are experienced enough to where they aren't necessarily considered youthful, but still young enough to where they aren't on the verge of retirement soon.
In other words, they are a microcosm of the Celtics franchise right now, which is also caught at a crossroads -- too good to become a lottery team, but not quite good enough to join the NBA's elite unless they can pull of a major blockbuster-type deal.
So where does that leave Rivers?
He understands that at the end of the day this is a business and whatever decisions he makes with his career have to be made in that context. He knows he can walk away from the game now and have his pick of TV jobs nationally, and if he does decide to return to coaching, he'll have plenty of opportunities.
But Rivers has indicated time and time again that he wants to stay in Boston, and that he wants to remain the head coach of the Celtics.
When all the dust finally settles, chances are very good that's exactly what he will be doing this season. But in the meantime, the waiting game continues.