By A. Sherrod Blakely
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."