Ainge goes public on Rivers release from C's

Ainge goes public on Rivers release from C's
June 25, 2013, 11:30 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, touched on several topics of discussion in his first public comments since Doc Rivers' departure to the Los Angeles Clippers.


Q: How tough will it be to find a replacement for Rivers?

DA: "Doc is one of the top coaches in the league, so that will be a difficult challenge. My feelings are, I had planned on Doc being our coach all along. We had discussions about him being a Gregg Popovich, Jerry Sloan, Red Auerbach, breaking Red Auerbach's all-time win record as a Celtic, and being here for a long time. I never really thought about this day until May 8. And even then, it was so early after the season I didn't think it would happen until yesterday (Monday)."

Q: What's your take on fans who think Doc quit on the Celtics?

DA: "I'm in a completely different direction than that. I do not believe Doc quit on this franchise. I believe he believed that, and he knows the pulse of players, better than anyone. He believed that a change was needed; maybe he just thought he needed a change. But Doc gave everything he could, for nine years. One of the great things that I've always appreciated about Doc Rivers was his stamina. He gets up and down like every coach does after wins and losses, but that sucker is there the next morning, watching the film three times and he's ready to go again. And he's had amazing stamina. He's given us every ounce that he's had for the last nine years. I would never ever say that he quit."

Q: Reportedly Doc didn't want to be part of rebuild. Do you view it that way? How did that discussion go about as far as moving ahead with this roster

DA: "When we signed Doc to the highest-paid coaching contract in the NBA a couple years ago, we knew the ages of our players and we knew that we would be at a phase - maybe last year, maybe this year, maybe next year - that a time to rebuild would be in store. We talked about that. At that time before it hit him, he was all on board. I thought I did a very good sales job on Doc, at that time. Maybe he did a sales job on me (chuckle). But we knew this time was coming. Everybody knows. It's clear that coaches are judged by wins and losses. It's unfortunate because there are some great coaches that haven't won and some coaches that aren't great that have won. But we're always based on the result. Doc has been around the block and he sort of gets that. He's also been in a rebuilding process and maybe it just hit him. It was really hard, those first few years in Boston. That was a real challenge. I've been geared up for it. I'm ready. We don't know if it'll happen this summer or next summer. But we've been gearing up for that possibility. Doc is different. GMs prepare for the now and the future. They're looking ahead. Coaches are trying to win that next quarter and playing it game by game. Again, I don't hold any animosity towards Doc for this choice, this decision."

Q: Was Doc set to come back if the Clippers deal fell through?

DA: "Yes. There was a little bit of indecisiveness on that, but he had decided that he was coaching this year in L.A. or Boston and I would have welcomed him back."

Q: Was a 2015 pick, probably in the 20s, enough compensation to give up Rivers?

DA: "I was asking for two picks for myself. They weren't going to do that, so we stuck with one for Doc (chuckle). No, but It's an unprotected pick. You never know what can happen. There's been all sorts of circumstances happen in our league ... getting unprotected picks is very difficult to get in our league. The most likely scenario is that it will be a pick in the 20s because I anticipate the Clippers are going to be good over the next little while. It was clear he (Rivers) preferred to be there. I understand the pull, and the tug from Los Angeles for what they had to offer."

Q: Did Doc want more power to stay in Boston?

DA:  "Doc never suggested any of the such. Doc has had a lot of power. As a head coach, a well respected head coach, a high-paid head coach, he's been in the game a long time and i have all the respect in the world for doc. Doc did have a lot of power in the things that we did. We always sort of viewed our relationship as such as Doc was my top assistant when it came to personnel, and I was an assistant coach when it came to basketball. That's just how it went. I'm guessing with Doc and the title he got in LA, will have more say. But that did not ever come up as an issue here."

Q: What's the status of the coaching search?

DA: "I have not talked with one coaching candidate at this point. I think yesterday (Monday) was for the first time, this is going to happen. This is probably going to happen. Up until that time, I never really thought it was going to happen. It was possible, but never thought it would really happen."

Ainge added, "I have thought obviously in preparation for this, anticipation that this could happen; I do watch coaches often as I travel around, scouting ... I do have some people in mind. But I haven't any contact or even consulted my staff on all this."

Q: The on-again, off-again nature of the talks?

DA: "We never were really close to a deal (until Monday) despite the reports. So I think that, this is part of the business. I don't want to get too emotional. Doc is going to great situation, a place he chose to go. A place that he wants to be. It's not a place I chose for him to go or a place that I want him to be. But I wish him well. I also am grateful for my relationship with him and all that he has done for us."

Q: Celtics can't make any deals with the Clippers for this season, is that something you put forth to them or was it mandated by the league?

DA: "That is my understanding that the league mandated that."

Q: Did Doc at any point express that maybe he had run his course with the current players, and that maybe he wasn't getting through as much?

DA: "He didn't say it that way, specifically. I just think Doc felt that a change would be good for our current players, that maybe a new voice would be better. He expressed that, yes."

Q: What would you like to see fans take away from Doc's departure?

DA:  "Everybody has to make their own decisions, reading between the lines. The whole story won't be told until I write my book 20 years from now, if I'm still around. I don't know what the fans will take from it other than Doc gave us nine fantastic years, sacrificed a lot, coached us great. Great guy to all you in the media, treated our fans with great respect and our players. I've been around this game long enough to know that we're all replaceable. And Doc's grateful for his nine years here. He's looking for a new chapter. He felt like it was time for a change. He felt like, in his opinion he shared with me, he felt like we all needed a change. That was his rationalization or justification of going to the Clippers was that, that was better for everybody."

Q: What's your timetable on hiring a new coach?

DA: "We don't feel any urgency in that. We don't need a coach for the draft. We don't need a coach for summer league. We don't need that to happen fast, so we'll take our time and look unless our number one choice makes a quick choice or something. There's no urgency in that matter."

Q: Do you want Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back this season?

DA: "I love Paul and KG. We haven't made that decision yet. And KG is under contract and Paul we have an option on five days from now. Those are very big decisions for us. But those decisions, I'm not certain about either one of those decisions." (note: Pierce can be bought out for $5 million by June 30 instead of being owed $15.3 million this season while Garnett might waive his no-trade clause if the C's can position him to play for a title contender).

Q: Will you coach the Celtics, Danny?

DA: "No. No way. I've tried that. I'm done with that."


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