Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is on the fence about returning to coach the team next season, and he's reportedly leery about overseeing a rebuilding effort in Boston, but team president Danny Ainge seems determined to hold Rivers to his original statement that he will either coach the Celtics or take a sabbatical. Ainge denied the Brooklyn Nets permission to speak with his head coach before they hired Jason Kidd, and now he has also denied the Los Angeles Clippers the opportunity to make a pitch to Rivers, according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.
Rivers and the Clippers have reportedly expressed mutual interest in joining forces, but Ainge has so far denied every official request from rival NBA teams. If the Memphis Grizzlies come knocking, there's no reason to think the answer would be any different.
The veteran coach still has three years and $21 million remaining on his contract with Boston, and he's already one of the highest-paid coaches in professional sports. He has coached the Celtics to an impressive 416-295 record during his stint with the franchise, including two trips to the NBA Finals and one championship, so it's easy to see why the team is reluctant to let him walk.
The situation has become a waiting game for Celtics fans. Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog captured the sentiments of local fans in his recent column on the Rivers saga:
I see Doc as being the "canary in the coal mines." If he leaves (the canary dying) that is an indication that an explosion is coming and might just collapse the tunnel. The difference is, Doc can pronounce that he's staying and put to rest all this speculation and repetitive and circuitous rumormongering. Yet he remains mum and we remain waiting. Pensively sitting on the last inches of our seats and constantly refreshing our mobile devices.
Bottom line: If he isn't coming back, there's a whole new set of questions to ask starting with "who's going to be the next coach?" But I don't even know who I'd prefer if I don't know what the next era is going to be. Rebuilding? Retooling? Bridge?
Still, we don't know until we know, so we know that we have to wait until we know. You know?
Now it's up to Rivers to provide some clarity, because at this point he may be the only one who truly knows what the next move will be.