Here's to hoping the Doc Rivers/Danny Ainge friendship doesn't end up hurting the Celtics

Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge are buds, pals, amigos. They like each other.

The two are arguably the closest a general manager and a coach have ever been to each other in the NBA.

With Rivers reportedly wanting out of Boston to coach the L.A. Clippers, that friendship could end up leaving the Celtics in horrible shape.

The friendship the two share is the only reason a coach with three years left on his deal can even consider jumping ship. On any other team, management would simply say, “You signed a contract, honor it or retire.”

But since Ainge and Rivers are close, Ainge wants to do right by his friend and let him go where he wants and chase another ring if he so chooses. The Clippers know this and have been sticking it to the Celtics during the entire course of their negotiations.

First they refused to offer Eric Bledsoe in a package for big man DeAndre Jordan, then they said “no way” to taking back one of the Celtics long-term deals of Jason Terry or Courtney Lee to give Boston cap flexibility, then they balked at giving Boston two first round draft picks and the latest has L.A. willing to take Rivers on as their coach for nothing.

The first deal with Bledsoe made some sense for Boston as they would be getting two young and talented players who could possibly be shipped in other deals for more assets. All the trade proposals after that? Horrible.

The last one that looked to be very close to actually going down before Commissioner David Stern said flat out it was illegal was the two first rounders and Jordan for Rivers and Kevin Garnett. That move does nothing to help Boston's finances and the late draft picks are gambles at best.

It's a little surprising the Clippers are playing hardball considering they are trying to win a championship right now, as well as convince their star point guard Chris Paul to sign up. They need Rivers and Garnett far more than the Celtics do.

The Celtics have pretty clearly entered rebuild mode. There is no sense of urgency for them. It would be nice to get something for Garnett and Paul Pierce, who can be bought out of his contract for $5 million, but the cap flexibility Boston would get if the two simply went away is just as valuable, and maybe even more valuable, than any assets of overpaid centers or end of the first round draft picks the Celtics could get in trades.

Rivers is under contract for the Celtics. He cannot coach another team for three years unless the Celtics say so. That's an asset and if other team's want his services then they should have to pay for it or wait until Rivers is no longer being paid by Boston.

Friends or not, Ainge is still the general manager of the Celtics and needs to walk away from this deal for good as the Clippers aren't possibly going to . He can't put the possible hurt feelings by Rivers ahead of what's best for the franchise. Ainge needs to get firm with his pal and tell him, “You signed a contract, honor it or retire.”

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