Ainge On Doc, Read Between The Lines …



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Danny Ainge didn’t have to say it for folks to connect the obvious dots about the departure of Doc Rivers for Los Angeles and the fact that Ainge wanted no part of the transaction.

Sure, he said all the right things Tuesday night while trying to answer the questions of the assembled media and talked fondly of Rivers, his nine-year stint in Boston and their fantastic working relationship that ended officially earlier Tuesday when Rivers was announced as the Clippers’ new coach and senior vice president of basketball operations.

You could tell it’s eating him alive, that no matter how many times he insists that it was a “win, win, win” for all involved, he knows that the Celtics are losing much more than just a coach.

Ainge said he’s been around long enough to know that “everyone is replaceable.”

But you don’t lose your partner in crime for nearly a decade and not feel it deep down.

The friendship between the two of them appears to have remained intact. How else do you preside over a deal where Rivers is allowed to leave his three years and $21 million remaining on his contract for the same deal with the Clippers?

Ainge could have made things as messy as he wanted to for Rivers if there wasn’t an underlying trust and true friendship between the two of them. Ainge wouldn’t bite when asked repeatedly if he was disappointed in Rivers or if he felt Rivers had “quit” on the Celtics after they had shown him the money with that five-year, $35 million deal he signed two years ago.

He made it clear that leaving was what Rivers wanted, that he wanted to chase new opportunities at this stage of his career, which is his prerogative. He holds no ill will toward Rivers, and expressed his sentiment that fans in Boston follow his lead.

And the feeling is apparently mutual, based on what Rivers told ESPNBoston.com‘s Jackie MacMullan:

“I always knew when I took the job with Boston that I would love the Celtics,” said Rivers, in his first public comments since he entered negotiations with the Clippers. “I knew I would love the tradition and the players. But I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the city and the people in it. Honestly, I get emotional thinking about it. I will cherish every single moment I had in Boston.”

All the emotion aside, Ainge still seemed stunned that he was sitting behind that microphone. He knows the business better than most. He recognizes how fickle the true superstars, coaches and players, can be when it comes to what motivates them (money often tops the list) and what inspires them (championships always top the list).

Rivers attained both with the Celtics. So it wasn’t ridiculous for Ainge to assume he’d avoid the coaching search that a dozen other franchises have had to deal with or are dealing with these days.

That makes it easier to answer some of those obvious questions that we all had when the presser began.

Was Ainge on board with the move?

Absolutely not.

Did he want Rivers to steer the ship through whatever rebuilding process is to come?

No doubt.

Did he believe as recently as Sunday that Rivers would indeed be the Celtics coach for the duration of his contract?

He certainly did.

The Celtics’ crew of Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce might have strolled off into the sunset together (Ray Allen escaped a bit earlier, joining the Miami Heat for their championship run this season). There was a chance the Celtics’ Big 3 era would get the proper send off.

But not now. Not with Rivers trading in his gig working with the aging stars he loved coaching and bonding with for the challenge that awaits with the Chris Paul (presumably), Blake Griffin and the same DeAndre Jordan who was rumored to be on his way to Boston in a deal for Garnett that certainly won’t happen now that the NBA has forbidden the Clippers and Celtics from conducting any other business with each other until this time next year.

Ainge said the wound is still so raw that he hasn’t even spoken to any potential candidates who could replace Rivers. He said the shock of it all being over hasn’t really hit him yet.

When asked if he wants Garnett and Pierce back next season, Ainge’s answer said it all.

“I love Paul and KG,” he said, “and we haven’t made that decision yet.”

Make no mistake, decisions made or not, this era of Celtics basketball is officially over.

52 Comments

  1. I am sure this article has touched all the internet users,
    its really really good article on building up new blog.

  2. Nick Diatta says:

    I m a really fan and love celtics inside my heart! Sport is a business, but everything that all the community and owners of the team’s celtics want to do; I pray for them to get the team in the right way for us who love see the team back to the top NBA!
    Thank you..

  3. Rcd says:

    This is where pro sports gets really absurd. Doc left for a new job! People do it every freaking day! Yet in sports, somehow it’s blown out of proportion by numbnut fans and talking heads. Hey, dif anyone call you a quitter last time you changed jobs? OMG! How about we congratulate Doc and Danny for a job well done and wish them and the teams well! Good God get a life people!

  4. One of the king's subject says:

    I actually don’t see the celtics in serious rebuilding mode. Rebuilding mode is when u start completely over. You still have a top 3 point guard in rondo and green is becoming a valuable player. Most likely kg and pierce believe they still have something left and there isn’t that many big men period and there isn’t that many small fowards who can create their own shots and at Pierre’s age he can still do that effectively. They just need kg to help with sullinger’s progression, and strive to make Jeff green more consistent, so even if they retire Boston is still a middle in the pack kind of team in the ecf and u can just start building your team around a soiled core.

  5. josey says:

    Celtics r in rebiuld mode! Rivers wasn’t in it 4 the rebiuld! He couldve stayed but he didn’t and now the clippers r serious contenders because of rivers! Ainge has dropped the ball and he eventually will b fired! When? Not 2 far in the future! He’s made bad move after bad move! Trading perkins. 4 nothing! Dissing the hell out of ray allen! I wonder how long that 1 championship he won is gonna keep him in boston?

  6. MrBasketball says:

    I hope the celtics don’t hire George karl. Nothing against him but he would not be the right fit. the celtics identity for the last 53 years has been defense and gritty play. George karl is not a right fit. Also, look at the east. indiana, Miami and Chicago play great defense. run and gun will not work in the east. It never has.

    The celtics should hire Lionel Hollins. he would be a perfect fit. bringing the same defensive adn grit and grind attitude that has lifted the grizzlies from beign a Dleague team to the western conf finals last year (Shame on the Grizzlies for not keeping him).

    Danny Ainge, Hire Lionel Hollins – Let the L Train keep rolling in Beantown

  7. Bu says:

    All teams go thru rebuilding process in pain so don’t blame Ainge for the stop. This team was built to win in 07-08 & 2-3 more championships. They won 1, then KG injured next yr, then Finals again & lost Perkins in game 7. Then Doc worked the team for 11-12 ECF & almost made it to the Finals. Big 3 were in the last legs of their prime so they’ve achieved a lot while facing adversity. Also, remember, just 3 hall of famers do not automatically win you championships. The Heat were helped by refs, NBA & more recently by Ginobili to win 2/3 last 3 yrs.

    For Doc, he’s a great coach & great loss for Celtics. I remember how each time after time outs he drew up plays that completely surprised the other team & scored, night in night out. I remember how he motivates his players & kept Rondo in check to get the best out of him.

    With this current situation, Celtics for sure will run thru a tough patch for next 2-3 yrs as KG & PP will likely leave & no solid leadership. Ainge needs to find a coach who’s good with building up a group of young guys & able to keep Rondo in check, unless he’s traded. I don’t know if Hollins is good enough as he had a slightly more mature group in Memphis.

    Ainge is a smart guy & short term I don’t see him stepping down as he made the deals & manage the group to make the Celtics relevant again. But if the rebuilding becomes really a mess & no progress in 18 months, maybe is time to change.

  8. lee lovitt says:

    trade kg and pearce see what u can get to help rebuild honestly id get rid of rondo 2 who is my fav pg in the league but is winey when not getting his way id try to trade rondo to atlanta he would fit perfectly there

  9. Coaching in the NBA is a bit misleading says:

    I love Doc. I’ve been a Celtics fan for my whole life and I remember liking Doc when he was with Orlando. However, have we forgotten how everyone was calling for him to be fired before the big three? The Celts were terrible and everyone was calling Doc a terrible coach. Then he gets two more hall of famers and all of a sudden he is one of the best coaches in the NBA. I’m not saying that Doc isn’t a great coach. I think he is a heck of a coach; I think his players loyalty to him is a testament to that. BUT, there are a ton of coaches in the NBA that could have led the Celtics to a championship with those three hall of famers (not to mention Rondo).

  10. Harry says:

    get george karl before it is too late

  11. Bob says:

    Technically, the clippers can still get KG (although it is very unlikley)

    There could be a trade involving 4 teams (Clippers, Celtics, and 2 other teams)

    Clippers could trade DJ for someone from another team, and Boston could trade KG for someone from the 2nd team)

    The team that traded with la could trade DJ to celtics for someone of their choice, and the team that traded with boston could trade KG to the clippers for somoene else.

    These would obviously be seperate transactions.

    Although very unlikely, it could happen.

    Thoughts?

  12. Gil says:

    Sad to see Doc go as well it has been great with him at the helm.

    However, as some have allready pointed out, the celtics future doesn’t look that bad at all. They have great young guys in Rondo, bradley, green and sullinger. With Garnett as the center that is one good lineup. Throw Pierce in the mix and Terry and you have a good team. I just hope they don;t make any rash decisions and get someone like JR smith. Come on, this guy is not a celtic he doest not have the right character. We need team first guys.

    Battle it out with your pride and honour in tact untill Pierce and Garnett to call it quits and in the mean time try to find a good replacement center and in two years from now Celtics are contenders again…

  13. boogoo says:

    you can’t compare Doc to a draft pick! I think he’s much more important then a first round draft pick in 2015. by the way, the Clippers with Doc will be much better in the next couple of seasons, including 2015 season, and the C’s will get a draft pick in the 20′s or even more! That’s a really bad trade!!!!!! Please bring Doc back!!!!

  14. Dean says:

    I feel like this will make KG want to stay even more. I’m sure he doesn’t agree with this, and especially with Rondo out for half the year possibly, he will want to stay and help this team. KG will find a new leadership within himself, he won’t abandon his teammates who at this point must feel extremely beat up. Even if it’s just from a mental stand point, they need KG and Paul Pierce. But to be honest I’ve never heard Pierce say he wouldn’t play for another team, so you never know he may end up in LA as well.

  15. ELISEO SORIANO OLDPATH says:

    BYRON SCOTT is available for coaching…

  16. Kamote says:

    this is a sad news for the Celtic fans. But things got to move on. Rondo, Bradley, Green and Sullinger are already the core for the C’s rebuilding process. If KG and Pierce remained, they could still mentor these kids. A solid coach would ensure that the winning continues, maybe not a championship team as of yet, but would definitely still be a playoff team. Sloan, Hollins, Karl are out there. I hope Ainge would do the right thing.

  17. ZULU says:

    Wish the LAKERS felt the same way about Phil J.

  18. Ken says:

    I can’t imagine the Celtics without Doc! As a Canadian Celtics Fan I am trying to be optimistic about the future. Best Of Luck in LA Doc.

  19. wgto5 says:

    See the ocean, there r bigger waves come from behind and pushing the waves in front of them, new guys always replace the old one, sad to see them go, but the future is brighter for the Celtics with a rebuilt!

  20. Bring back Bird!!! says:

    Doc…thank you for #17 and letting me be a basketball fan again….I’ll always be a fan of yours. Go with my best wishes for success with the Clips. I’ll be staying up late on the East coast to catch more games from my 2nd favourite team.

    Next moves for C’s to rebuild for the future….bring back the legend as Pres of Ops (sorry Danny) or as coach. It’s time we let him build the Celtics like he did the Pacers. Someone should start an online petition
    BRING BACK LARRY TO BOSTON!! This would give us great hope for the future…plus the press conferences would be entertaining…maybe he’d use the Sissie line again.

    We love you Larry and more importantly..we need you to help us rebuild.

    Come home,man…we’re waiting with open arms!!

  21. HB says:

    KG for player-coach….

  22. LegalShots says:

    Celtics should pick J.R smith, he would keep Celtics alive with rondo and others

    • aaaaaa says:

      No. The Celts don’t need another SG, plus J.R Smith is so immature he doesn’t even deserve a shot here (remember wearing black to the “funeral?”)

  23. Skolimowski says:

    It’s a shame and it does seem like the end of an era more than last year with Ray Allen moving. Still, Ainge doesn’t seem particularly interested in changing quickly and I think that’s the best attitude, because, though some won’t recognize it, rebuilding started 2 years ago with Bradley coming in. Then they re-signed Green, drafter Sullinger next year and it seems the only piece missing is a great center, and there are a few in this year’s draft. Garnett and Pierce will not go away until they want to retire because they are still impact players and they can teach a few things to these new guys. They deserve to retire as Celtics. Meanwhile, I’m hoping Rudy Gobert lands in Boston in the draft – even he has said Garnett is his favourite player.

  24. Well said Sekou, this era is over. Well it was over a year ago! And as a Celtic fan for 26 years I’m proud to say that I have seen the C’s rise again after the Bird-Parrish- McHale era.

    Now it’s time to close this chapter and move on. Try to build this up again by making the right adjustments. Doc & Ray gone – PP & KG done……create a new team around Rajon and Green. There are some interesting names on the trade market: D Howard (and why not?), let KG go! Josh Smith (buy PP out with 5 million), G Karl as the new coach (anything else is less dan Doc, even mr Hollins) and you have a top 4 East Conf team!

    This ain’t the end but the start of a new era! Go C’s!!!!

  25. J says:

    good for doc bad for celtics

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  27. Sam says:

    As a Boston fan this is sad, but in reflection what an amazing job doc has done to bring together the first real “big three” form Ray Allen and KG to clinch that amazing title win. Would have been fantastic to see doc rebuilding the Boston franchise along with Rondo at the helm. What an oppertunity he has with the clippers now. Good luck doc!! Hope the Boston crowd will give you a round of applause as an opponent when he visits the jungle! Even if its only once! #Doclegend #letsgoboston

    • Kei says:

      Funny how people congrats Doc but not Ray for an opportunity to get a ring. Sure, Ray went to rival Miami but isn’t it the same that you wish good things for people when they left? Least Ray gave you all a ring.
      Anyhow Cs on rebulid mode now, interesting to see where KG and Truth go from here, a trade demand from the Jet if that happens.

  28. gdt2 says:

    C’mon celt fans lets be honest can we forsee or entertain a championship season next without a major trade ….?NONONO….A trade was imminent …..now that has happened lets wish danny lands a either G.Karl r L.Hollins ( in my openion best suited for this celtics roster than doc) …..and lets pary celtics land any one of the super stars available in free agency …..Josh smith r AI r Monta EL his…..are alll three with L.Hollins r Karl …wow we got a another championship caliber team…..hoooha

  29. Gillsy says:

    Hollies is the best of what’s left, I agree Karl is the coach of the year but his health is always a concern and Hollins made it to conference final slats year. The only problem is how much he wants Danny wont want to pay too much. PP however, much everyone loves him will be out within a week, and the trade for Smith is predictable and interesting. He has his flaws but Rondo, Bradley, Smith and Green is a start. Not playing with PP may give Green the chance to shine, I take it that the first rounder from the Clippers will be delt to Atlanta in this trade. It would be good to see the Celtics draft a centre like Adams or Dieng for the middle. My only hope is that Danny doesent wait to long to hire an ok coach

  30. Lakers4life says:

    I’m not a Celtics fan but this is just sad :(,It’s the the end of an amazing era for the celtics.(maybe for lakers too).

  31. amitpal says:

    The celtics should have gown for brian shaw. It would have been a quick move but I think the right move. Shaw is great at developing players and will be a great coach in this league. Now there best option is Lionel hollins. Guys a good coach and hes somewhat young so he can stick around for a while unlike George karl whos years r numbered with his age.

  32. derekdoc says:

    Its sad to see the end of a great era however i am excited to see how it all plays out in L.A. with Doc. The clippers will definetly be competing for title next season

    • spark199 says:

      I really like the clippers, but realistically, we all know, the clippers need that one, consistent SG. This will ensure a title. Same with the OKC. These two teams are in need of the “three” in the big three. The clippers: SG, the OKC:PF/C

      • Derp says:

        For the Clippers, they need a PF/C that scores consistently and during clutch time, Paul is like Rose in the sense that they can score whenever, but you can’t rely on Griffin and DJ to provide you sufficient PPG because I live near LA and I watch their games all the time and they are simply off-rhythm without all the lobs. The OKC just need to tell Ibaka to shoot inside and post up instead of trying to shoot 3′s and be a Bosh for them.

  33. Kimmy says:

    Somehow, things just don’t seem to be looking too good for the Celtics. I agree with the comments above: KG and PP should know when it’s time to call it quits. Is it now?

  34. celtic533 says:

    Now that Doc is gone,the celtics can do good by signing George Karl.He has a run-and-gun offense that rondo would love.The pieces the Celtics have right now and I think they might still be able to keep KG AND Pierce as the vets coming off the bench. A good starting lineup under Karl would be Rondo,Lee,(insert any small forward:PROBABLY Pierce for 30 mins a game) ,Green and Wilcox because hes a fastbreak big. KG COMES OF BENCH AS BOTH PF and C FOR 25 MINS A GAME.

    • Derp says:

      TBH, I’m not sure KG will take coming off the bench very lightly, he might just retire if he was told that he’ll start coming off the bench.

  35. Patty says:

    Danny Ainge, when are you leaving? You have destroyed the Celtics Organization.

    • artifex says:

      He didn’t want Ray Allen to leave, he was willing to give him much more than Allen gets in Miami.
      He didn’t want Rivers to leave, but Rivers wanted out because he doesn’t want to rebuild.
      You can blame Rivers or you can accept him being uncomfortable, your pick.

      Don’t say Ainge always did the right moves but I don’t see to blame him here. Sure, he could have nixed it, but as the article says, out of respect for Rivers he agreed and because he knows he wouldn’t get far with a coach that doesn’t want to do what he has to do (rebuild).

      Maybe they should have known the future better. After last years season they thought they have enough for 2, 3 ore years together. but Pierce couldn’t hold on the niveau he had then, and appears increasingly dificult for KG too. So that only put the inevitable 1, 2 years earlier…

    • aaaaaa says:

      Dsnny doesn’t always make the right decisions, but he’s pretty damn good at his job. RayRay wasn’t his fault and Doc was out of friendship. Also, look at how he’s drafted over the years Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Jared Sullinger, and a draft day trade for Rajon Rondo. You can’t forget him bringing Ray and KG here and building that championship team. That’s a pretty damn good track record if you ask me. I’m glad Danny is our GM.

  36. Patty says:

    DOC Rivers has ever right to go to the Clippers if he wanted to. I am happy for Doc Rivers and his family. All the best to the organization.

    KG & Pierce, it is all in the timing.

  37. celtic533 says:

    It was a great run so good luck in Los Angeles,Doc.The only thing i want for the celics now is for KG and Pierce to let go of their championship dreams and retire as Celtics.

    • Derp says:

      Yea, I agree, those two, lets face it, are kind of turning into a burden with their contracts and their not-worthy performances, not hating, just reciting some observations. Don’t get me wrong, they play well above decent for their respective ages, but the C’s could do so much better with the cap space they are taking up.

    • artifex says:

      Pierce has a player option this summer. There is a possibility he takes the drop
      With an 3 year let say 26 Mio (7.5, 8.5, 10 Mio) contract he can stay and has 2 more years in it but Celtics save 8 Mio this year. Last year is Y1 after KG’s cotract.
      I know this sound crazy but he wouldn’t be alone: Duncan, who 5 years of 20Mio, now has 9 Mio contract.

      This is really a concept that makes sense, stars taking paycuts, so space for new talent they can guide, but they still have income and stay active, which I guess many players like too.
      But maybe that only works in San Antonio (then Robinson to Duncan, now Duncan to Parker)…

  38. Gene says:

    Of course Ainge hates to see Rivers leave, now he will have to really put his general managers’ skills on display. That is unless there is another former Celtic out there willing to “give” him a player of the caliber of KG. Now that he is on his own we will get to see whether he is any good.

    • he can get George Karl…who in my opinion is a better coach than rivers, and is good in developing players on rebuilding mode…so that is a win win

      • artifex says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily put Karl upon Doc but I agree, he would be a replacement as good as can be and he is certainly do well with younger and new players to form a team, and thats what the Celtics need now.

    • Mike says:

      This is a sad day for a true Celtic like myself. The C’s have a good base to work with but it will surly be a rebuilding time. The Head Coach position will be the key to the road back to a championchip. Wonder who it will be? I will stay tuned. And another thing. Paul P wont look good in anything but Celtic Green!!

    • Floridian says:

      Sometimes you do not want someone to leave but you do not do your best to keep them happy in their position. You made them leave. Rivers is an amazing coach not getting enough help from the management. I would like to know both of their feelings, when Allan shoot the tree and tied the game in final series. Boston will be nowhere w/o Doc