Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers had delivered the dreaded “I am heavily leaning toward returning” speech following his team’s exit from the playoffs on Wednesday night.
We all know what that can mean. Rivers was so out of there.
But Rivers is fully on board after agreeing to accept a new five-year contract that will pay him $6 million per season to continue coaching the Celtics and their Big Three. He will also be coaching in Boston after the current run is over.
This was definitely the right decision, even for a franchise with its aging stars sitting at home with fading hopes of making another run next season.
“I think Doc is the best coach in the league. So it’s great for us,” general manager Danny Ainge said Friday in his wrap-up news conference at the team’s practice facility. “Doc wants to be here. It’s not all because he thinks that over the next five years we will have the best team in the NBA.
“He’s part of this franchise. He wants to do what it takes for us to be successful.”
Part of that was obviously committing quickly. After last season, Rivers waited into the summer before announcing he would come back after the Celtics made it all the way to the NBA Finals. The focus now can be on the NBA draft and free agency to which players might best fit with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to return the Celtics back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Ainge and Rivers apparently had been discussing the extension throughout the playoffs. It was just a matter of what Rivers wanted to do.
"Doc has always known that we've wanted him and that offer was on the table," Ainge said to ESPN.com. "I would say that, early in the playoffs, as the playoffs first started, we started that conversation again. He understood it was important for me to know what he wanted to do, because [the offseason] is a long process and there's a lot of things going on in the summer. He spent some time with his family and made his decision a little earlier this time."
(Photo: AP Photo/J Pat Carter)