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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Ainge details Rivers' timeline

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge offered a timeline of Doc Rivers' departure during a press conference Tuesday night. As part of his opening statement after the league approved a swap Tuesday that officially allowed Rivers to sign on as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ainge offered some kind words on Rivers' nine-year tenure, then attempted to explain the seven weeks of indecision that culminated with the Clippers sending a 2015 first-round pick as compensation to pry Rivers away.

"Doc Rivers is going to be the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers," said Ainge. "I would first just like to thank Doc for nine years of friendship and great coaching. He was a great teammate and the Clippers have a really good coach. We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers in 2008 and he did an unbelievable job making it to the Finals in 2010; a long history of great success with us over the last nine years and we wish him the best in Los Angeles.

"On May 3rd, our season ended [with a first-round playoff exit against the New York Knicks]. And there was some uncertainty as to whether Doc would return to the Celtics or not at that time -- I wasn’t aware of it then, but [the media] made me aware of it... I had every reason to believe that he would come back, but coaching is hard, and it’s draining, and what people say at the end of a long season, you don’t take to heart.

"On May 8th, Doc and I had a conversation about his future and I was curious about which way he was leaning and why... He was uncertain still at that time, but wondered what his options were.

"On May 9th, we sent him a letter saying that we expected him to be our coach, and he was under contract to be our coach for three more years. That was our intention all along and that’s what we hoped he would do. And then in subsequent weeks, conversations started as he still had uncertainty as to what he would do.

"[Soon after], we had a conversation, him and I, as friends and partners over the last nine years, and a guy that I really trust, we had a conversation that we discussed the possibility of him trying to get the Clippers job. There were other teams that were interested in hiring Doc, [but] we didn’t allow any of them to talk to Doc that had inquired. But the Clippers was one that intrigued him a little bit. I’m sure their great mix of talent had a lot to do with that, and his friends Skip and Al -- his golfing buddies out in Bel-Air -- had a lot to do with that. But with the idea that, if it wasn’t going to be a win-win-win situation, if it wasn’t good for the Celtics -- which is what my job is: Do what’s best for the Celtics -- and if it wasn’t good for him, it wasn’t good for the Clippers, we just wouldn’t do a deal. And he’d come back and coach [the Celtics].

"That’s the way it was from that point on, all the way until today when the deal was finalized. So today a deal was finalized, we were compensated a first-round pick in 2015 from the Los Angeles Clippers, Doc was let out of contract and reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers. And we will move forward, and find a very good coach who can lead us into the next phase."

Ainge noted that, because of the on-again, off-again nature of the negotiations with the Clippers, he never really thought a deal would get done. He said he still hadn't processed the fact that Rivers is moving on, or how the Celtics will replace him.

"It still probably hasn't hit me," said Ainge. "Because I didn’t really think it was going to happen. I have not talked to one coaching candidate at this point. I think yesterday it, for the first time really, I thought, 'This is going to happen. This is probably going to happen.' Up until that time, I never really thought it was going to happen."