WALTHAM, Mass. -- The 2010-11 NBA season has barely begun and the future of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is already a hot topic.
Rivers, who leaned heavily toward walking away from the team this summer to spend more time with his family, eventually decided to return for the final year of his contract. On Friday, a Yahoo! Sports report quoted Rivers as saying he could envision a lengthy future with Boston as a "career coach," but Saturday he indicated he remains on the year-to-year plan.
"That was a question I was asked and, really, I don't even think on those terms, to be honest," said Rivers. "I'm year to year, that's how I am. The question was asked: Where else would you rather go? I said, I don't think you can go to a better place than here. It's a great setup, [the Celtics organization] is phenomenal."
In the Yahoo! column, sources are cited as saying Rivers is at the top of Heat president Pat Riley's list for potential coaches to lead his revamped Miami squad, but Rivers dismissed that suggestion while protecting a fellow coach.
"I'm not getting into that," said Rivers. "The only guy on [Riley's] list is [current Miami coach] Erik [Spoelstra] and that's the only guy that should be there. I'm not going there. That's a stupid conversation, it really is."
In the Yahoo! column, Rivers noted he didn't want to discuss a contract extension, but talked about the potential for future success in Boston even after the Big Three era.
"Two years ago, I didn’t have that thought,” Rivers told Yahoo! Sports. “But clearly this summer, I had that thought a lot. It’s because of the organization. Even after [the Big Three] leave, I still have that relationship and it’s going to allow us to be good again. If I’m going to stay in it without taking a break, it would be tough for me to go anywhere else. We’ve talked about [an extension], but I just want to wait. But to be a career Celtics coach is something I think about. I’ve learned: You don’t have what we have here somewhere else.”
Rivers continued to speak glowingly of his situation in Boston Saturday, particularly in regards to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
"Maybe it's because we went through the hard times at the start, not with our relationship, but we weren't winning a lot of games," said Rivers. "When you endure that as a group, you clearly grow together, and we did that. It's amazing, through the whole time, as a group, we got closer and stuck with it."
Rivers thinks that bond between coach, general manager, and ownership is incredibly important to being successful.
"We get along, and that’s so important in all organizations," said Rivers. "You look at the Red Sox, for example, and you see [general manager] Theo [Epstein] and [manager] Terry [Francona], they have a great relationship. You look around, so many [teams], it's 'them' and 'us.' Here, it's just 'us.'"
Celtics captain Paul Pierce did gush about Rivers and suggested that if he's willing to hang around for another 20 years, Pierce might as well.
"He's just really liked," said Pierce. "Everybody sees how he's meshed personalities. He's been able to coach an inexperienced [team] and do it with a veteran team with a lot of personalities and a lot of All-Stars. That's a difficult combination. Around the league, you look at certain coaches, they can only coach one player; some coaches can't coach veterans. He's done both.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see Doc here for the next 20 years, and you might see me here, too."
Told of Rivers' suggestion about a long-term future in Boston, Kevin Garnett's eyebrows immediately shot skyward and he dismissed the chatter.
"Doc had a little too much coffee this morning," said Garnett. "I don’t know if that coffee was tainted."