- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Although Celtics team president Danny Ainge has stated that Doc Rivers will return to coach Boston next season, Rivers believes it "may be time for a change," according to a source close to the situation.
"Doc loves coaching," the source told ESPN. "He loves coaching in Boston. But he feels it may be time for a change."
Rivers, who has been attending the Celtics' pre-draft workouts, is unsure of what he wants to do and has not yet ruled out returning to Boston for a 10th season. He has a very close relationship with Ainge, and the source said that is one factor that is making his decision so difficult.
If Rivers were to walk away from the three years and $21 million remaining on his contract with the Celtics, it is not clear whether he would seek another coaching job next season or sit out and possibly return to broadcasting.
According to a source, if Rivers does decide to leave, the Celtics will not let him coach another team while he's under contract. The only way the Celtics would allow Rivers to coach another team is if there is compensation like a veteran player or multiple draft picks, according to a source.
The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers asked for permission to speak with Rivers about their coaching jobs last month, but Ainge refused to grant it. There is a feeling throughout the league, however, that because of the closeness of their relationship, Ainge would allow Rivers to leave and go elsewhere if the coach requested it.
One source with knowledge of the Clippers' thinking said Rivers almost certainly would become the the club's first choice if he becomes available.
While he has debated taking time away from coaching in the past, Rivers signed a five-year, $35 million extension after the 2010-11 season and said he was committed to the potential long-term reshaping of Boston's roster.
After the New York Knicks eliminated the Celtics from the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Rivers said of his future, "I'm coming back until I say I'm not."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg and ESPN.com's Andy Katz was used in this report.
6dEthan Sherwood Strauss
7dMatt Walks, ESPN.com