BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers playfully opened his pregame media duties by offering, "Say it ain't so, Wes," amid the news that wide receiver Wes Welker had agreed to a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos.
Rivers, a frequent visitor to Foxborough during the NFL season, even if his true allegiance is to his beloved Chicago Bears, said the news of Welker's defection resonates with the Celtics.
"It's hard to [keep teams together]," said Rivers. "We lost Ray [Allen], it feels like, the same way [the Patriots] lost Wes. You wanted him and you did everything you could and somehow they go somewhere else. Just like we wanted Ray to stay, I know they wanted Wes to stay, and it just sometimes doesn't work out. There's too many other people involved. That's what is great once everyone's signed -- it's the coaches and the players and no one can get in your group. But once you get into free agency, a lot of other people get involved with decision-making that is outside of winning and losing, and that's why I guess it's called free agency. But it makes it tough."
Back on the subject of basketball, here's a few more quick hits before Wednesday's visit from the Toronto Raptors:
* NO REST FOR C'S: The Celtics will have 12 available bodies as, one night after Paul Pierce got his first day off of the season in Charlotte, everyone is expected to play against the Raptors. Rivers said he'd like to get Kevin Garnett a couple more games off before the end of the regular season, but noted, "It’s no process. Really, it’s just what you see. You travel with the guys, you talk with them all the time and when you pick up something where you think a guy needs a day off, you give him a day off. A lot doesn’t go into it. I’m not one that really looks at the schedule and says, ‘Let’s do it on this game or this game.’ It’s more what’s in front of you and you make a decision."
* GAY A GO: Rudy Gay (back) will play for the Raptors. Rivers noted they are a different team since his addition, particularly because of his trickle-down effect: "Well, they're better. They have a go-to guy and having a go-to guy allows the other guys to be better players. I think the guy who's probably benefited the most, without watching them every game, would be [DeMar] DeRozan, because he's a guy that likes to get to the basket and Rudy creates space. So I thought it was a good move for them."
* PIETRUS MISSES BOSTON: Old friend Mickael Pietrus invaded the Celtics' locker room before Wednesday's game to catch up with his former teammates. Pietrus expressed disappointment that he wasn't brought back, though Rivers noted he might have been waiting for more money than Boston could offer during free agency. "I can’t get over it. I cannot. I’ll be honest with you," said Pietrus. "I just can’t. Because Boston was what I like to do, fight, protect your jersey. That’s what I like to do. I’m really happy to see those guys back. You never know, hopefully I’ll be back. Cross your fingers. I would love to play here."