How close was Doc Rivers to returning to the Boston Celtics? For a couple hours on Sunday morning, he was bracing himself for whatever lies ahead for the Celtics after telling president of basketball operations Danny Ainge that he had decided to return for at least one more season. But by the time he checked his phone next, the opportunity to join the Clippers was back on the table and Rivers elected to head west.
"[The emotional swing] was quick and it was strange," Rivers said during a 26-minute conference call with Boston reporters on Wednesday. "I can tell you the whole timeline. I think my son, Spencer, played [an AAU game] at 10 a.m., so about 9:30, I was sitting in a parking lot in Gainesville, Ga., talking to Danny on the phone. I told him that my decision was that I needed to coach [and would return to Boston]. I hung up the phone and I turned the phone off, because that's what I do when I watch my kids play.
"Right after that first game, which [Spencer's team] won so they had to play again, I turned my phone on and [Rivers' agent] Lonnie [Cooper] had called me -- and my phone was on fire. And I'm thinking, 'Wow, what happened here? So I called Lonnie ... and he said, 'Have you talked to Danny?' I said, 'I haven't talked to anybody, I've been watching a game. He said, 'It looks like the deal is done.' I said, 'What deal? The deal's dead.' He said, 'No, the deal's done. [Clippers executive vice president] Andy [Roeser] and Danny, for the last two or three hours, have kind of agreed on doing this deal. And so, now, the reason we've called you is to make sure that you still want to be involved in it.'
"So my emotions then were all over the place, because I had to kinda redo them. And, honestly, I thought we had gone down this road for so long and so far, I just thought, obviously, if Danny could get a [first-round draft] pick [as compensation], I just thought it was time, it was the right thing to do."
Rivers had previously told Ainge on Friday that he was ready for the Celtics to end on-again, off-again talks with the Clippers and was taking the weekend to finalize the decision about his own future. Rivers detailed during Wednesday's call how he initially contemplated taking a year off to both broadcast games and travel the country to watch other coaches and refresh himself, but once the Clippers job came into play, he had ultimately convinced himself that he would return to either Boston or Los Angeles next season.
And for a few hours Sunday, he was ready to coach in both cities.