UPDATE: Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge had this to say on WEEI’s Salk & Holley about the rumors that Doc Rivers may not return to the Boston Celtics:
“Doc is always unsure. Coaching is very, very draining. Every year with Doc, he’s had to go home and sort of recharge and ask himself that question, ‘Is this something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing?’ I understand that. And we sort of give him time to unwind and relax, and after a couple of 92′s on the golf course, he usually comes back.
I think Doc will be coaching the Boston Celtics.”
Ainge added that he believes Rivers is the best coach in the NBA.
The latest: The Brooklyn Nets would be interested in discussing their open coaching position with Doc Rivers, should the Celtics agree to release him from his contract.
The skinny: The Nets know Rivers well — he’s been coaching against them for nearly a decade. After a 13-year playing career that ended in 1996, the former point guard took his first head coaching job with the Orlando Magic in 1999, following former New Jersey Nets coach Chuck Daly. After winning Coach of the Year in his first season in Orlando for leading a terrible roster to a .500 record, Rivers coached three more full seasons before getting fired in 2003 after a 1-10 start. After less than a year broadcasting, Rivers returned to coaching in the 2004-05 season with the Boston Celtics, leading them to 66 wins and an NBA Championship in the 2007-08 season. Rivers has coached Boston to a winning record in every season since the team traded for Kevin Garnett before that year.
Rivers, a player’s coach, is a big believer in Ubuntu. As he puts it: “The definition of Ubuntu is that a person is a person through other people. I can’t be all I can be, unless you are all you can be. Basically, I am because you are. It’s a powerful way of life. It’s the way the South Africans under apartheid connected themselves. They realized that everything each and every individual did was important to their success. We try to conduct ourselves in Ubuntu as Celtics. It allows us to be a team, to drop our guard as individuals and let the team in — put the team first — and I think it’s very important. It’s a very important way to live life.”
The verdict: Rivers is a longshot to coach this team, as it would be a shock if the Celtics both let him out of his contract and permitted him to talk with a division rival. Great coach, though.