Doc wasted no time getting into the idea that Danny Ainge floated about Doc wanting out of Boston.
Honestly, I was very disappointed in that part of Danny’s press conference,” Rivers said during an appearance on Dennis & Callahan to promote September’s Hoop Dreams event at TD Garden to benefit Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). “Other than that, Danny and I have no issues. Danny knows, just like I know, that that’s not true.
“Listen, guys, this is old stuff. I’m here, and Danny’s in Boston. You can ask Danny that more and more, but there were two people in that room, and it was Danny and I, and anyone else who has a comment about what went on doesn’t really know because they weren’t in that room. It was more than one day. It was several days, and it was an agreement.”
Regardless, Rivers and the Celtics president of basketball operations are still in communication. ”We’ve had our disagreements when I was there, and we’ve moved on,” added Rivers. “That was a disagreement on how that was presented. Danny knows that, and I know the truth, but you move on and we’ve talked many times since.
As little as it matters now, don't expect either Rivers or Ainge to let this issue go. Rivers is right that he and Ainge are the only two that really know how Doc's departure went down which makes it a "he said/he said" situation. Ainge doesn't want to look like the guy who ran out town one of the best coaches in the league and Rivers doesn't want to look like a complete fraud who skipped out as soon as the future of the team got dicey after his "Jerry Sloan of the Celtics" comments have come back to bite him.
Rivers also talked about Rajon Rondo's return and didn't sound too optimistic about Rondo being ready to go opening night.
I have [spoken to him]. I don’t know that answer. I really don’t. I talked to all the players. Sully [Jared Sullinger] and Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, but with Rondo I don’t know. I know he’s working hard, and that’s one of things he told me. He’s never worked harder in his life. I don’t know if you guys have ever had that injury. I have. You have to work that hard to come back. That’s a hard injury — not to come back from — it’s just a hard injury to do the rehab. When he comes back, he’ll be 100 percent. It’s just going to take time.
It's a little surprising that Rivers and Rondo are still speaking. They've had their moments, reportedly having to be restrained during arguments in practice, but they are both point guards and Rivers is the only professional coach Rondo has ever known so maybe there is some bond there that wasn't totally obvious like it was between Rivers and Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett.
Speaking of Garnett. Rivers discussed The Big Ticket wearing a different uniform for only the third time in his almost 20 years in the league.
I just thought it was a tough one for him. You guys don’t know Kevin. If he has one fault — and there are not a lot of them as a player — he doesn’t really allow a lot of people to get to know him, and Kevin hates change. Hates it. He’s extremely loyal, and at the end of the day he felt like Paul was gone, I was gone, Jason Terry was leaving and that he was doing it for the right reasons. Not necessarily that he wanted to go, he just thought that this is something that Danny wanted. Danny wanted to rebuild and reload, and he just felt like he was doing the right thing. I don’t know if he necessarily wanted to go, but he went, and now when you talk to him he’s excited. He’s excited about his new team and he really believes they have a chance of knocking Miami off in the East.
Most of that makes sense and appears to be good insight as Rivers and Garnett were close, but it seems a little unlikely that Jason Terry had much influence on what Garnett did with his career. Maybe the two were friends, but Terry was only here a year and there haven't been any stories about Garnett and Terry being friends off the court like there were with Pierce and other players like Marcus Camby.
It's good that Garnett is supposedly excited to play for the Nets as you don't want an unhappy Garnett walking off into the sunset. Garnett always gets amped up regardless of where he is or who he plays with, but you have to believe that there will still be a piece missing from him as he finishes off his hall of fame career as a role player on a team struggling to find its identity.
It will probably take all of the 2013-2014 season before the Rivers/Boston storyline truly goes away and Rivers is seen simply as the Clippers coach. Until then, and probably a little after that, expect Rivers to be asked and answer questions about his time with the Celtics anytime he even looks New England's way.