Danny Ainge Says Doc Rivers Didn’t Quit on the Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge, while visibly upset about head coach Doc Rivers’ departure to Los Angeles, insisted that Rivers did not quit on the C’s. Ainge also claims that Boston’s front-office is in no rush to find a new coach. Per the Boston Globe: “Celtics general manager Danny Ainge officially announced the departure of his coach of nine years Tuesday, reflecting on the tenure of Doc Rivers and answering questions about the future of the franchise. ‘I’d like to thank Doc for nine years of friendship and great coaching,’ Ainge said in his opening statement. ‘He was a great teammate. And the Clippers are getting a really good coach.’ Flanked by team president Rich Gotham, Ainge took questions about the deal that sent the rights to Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2015 first-round draft pick. The teams had engaged in on-again, off-again negotiations for Rivers for more than a week. Ainge said that despite reports, the deal was not a sure thing until it was finalized Tuesday. ‘I had planned on Doc being our coach all along,’ said Ainge. ‘We had discussions about him being Gregg Poppovich or Jerry Sloan or Red Auerbach, getting the all-time wins record as a Celtic and being here for a long time.’ Rivers and Ainge first spoke about the coach’s future on May 8, according to the GM, because Ainge was ‘curious as to which way he was leaning and why.’ … ‘He was uncertain still at that time but wondered what his options may be,’ said Ainge. According to Ainge, the team sent Rivers a letter on May 9 saying they ‘expected him to be our coach and fulfill his contract. … That’s what we hoped that he would do.’ When it became clear Rivers had an interest in leaving, Ainge said the pair discussed Rivers trying to get the Clippers job. Other teams expressed interest in Rivers but were denied the chance to speak with him about their coaching vacancies. […] ‘I do not believe Doc quit on this franchise,’ said Ainge. ‘I think he believed that a change was needed. Maybe he just felt he needed a change.’ According to Ainge, Rivers knew what he was getting into when the team signed him to a five-year, $35 million contract extension in 2011. At that time, the Celtics were faced with decisions on a 33-year-old Paul Pierce, a 35-year-old Kevin Garnett, and a 35-year-old Ray Allen. ‘When we signed Doc to the highest-paid coaching contract in the NBA a couple years ago, we knew the ages of our players,’ said Ainge. ‘We knew that a time for rebuild would be in store. We talked about that. I felt like I did do a very good sales job on Doc at that time. Maybe he did a sales job on me.'”