Ainge, Rivers begin talks about new contract

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Ainge, Rivers begin talks about new contract

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON You'd be hard-pressed to find any one with ties to the NBA that is looking forward to this summer, and a potential lockout on the horizon.

For the Boston Celtics, a delay in the start of the season might actually work to their advantage in retaining a prized free agent - head coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers, whose contract expires at the end of this season, has made no secret about wanting to spend more time with his family.

If there is a lockout and the season is delayed, that may very well be enough to allow Rivers to spend additional time with his family, and still return as the Celtics' head coach.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has had multiple talks with Rivers throughout this season about re-signing with the C's.

Rivers has been consistent, Ainge said, in wanting to put off his contract situation until the season is over.

"He would much rather the focus now be on the players and our goal, which is to win a championship," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "And not so much on his contract and his future."

But Ainge knows he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't gauge Rivers' interest in returning, or making sure Rivers understands that he is still a coveted member of the Celtics family.

"Doc knows how I feel," said Ainge. "I'm doing all I can to keep Doc around for as long as possible."

And while a lockout will certainly not be in the best interest of the league, Ainge acknowledges that it may become a factor Rivers weighs in deciding whether to return.

"I don't believe Doc is necessarily looking forward to being a coaching free agent this summer," Ainge said. "I really do believe he'll be trying to decide whether to come back to Boston, or take some time off, maybe a year or two, and do some other things."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.