Just a day before Doc Rivers was signed Tuesday to coach the Los Angeles Clippers, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge didn't believe Rivers would be anywhere but on Boston's bench. And so Ainge hasn't started the search for the Celtics' next head coach -- he only made clear that he has no desire to take the job himself.
"I've done that gig. I'm done with that," Ainge said, adding that he has only had time to compile a few hot names in his head.
Any questions as to why Ainge hasn't planned to replace Rivers can be answered by Ainge's surprise. After the Celtics' season ended on May 3, Ainge didn't believe rumors of Rivers' apprehension to return to a rebuilding project in Boston. Five days later, Rivers met with Ainge to express his uncertainty but Ainge never thought it would end this way.
"On May 9, we sent him a letter saying we expected him to be our coach and to fulfill his contract and to coach for three more years," Ainge said. "That was our intention all along."
But as the talks went on, Rivers appeared intrigued by the opportunity with the Clippers. Meanwhile, Ainge said he didn't think it'd happen until the day before Los Angeles inked Rivers and the league had already approved the essential trade that netted the Celtics an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft. Ainge said Rivers appeared ready and willing to return to Boston despite the failed talks.
"With the idea if it wasn't going to be a win-win-win situation, if it wasn't going to be good for the Celtics, if it wasn't good for him, if it wasn't good for the Clippers ... he would be the (Boston) head coach," Ainge said.
Boston and Los Angeles' rumored trade of Rivers along with forward Kevin Garnett was shot down by the NBA, and the league mandated the restriction between the two clubs that will prevent them from engaging in any trade until the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, Ainge said. That will keep down any talk of Garnett being moved to the Clippers.
However, Ainge didn't commit to the Celtics moving forward with Garnett or fellow veteran Paul Pierce next season.
"I love Paul and KG," Ainge said when asked if either would be back next season. "We haven't made a decision on that. I'm not certain on any one of those decisions."
Rumors swirled that point guard Rajon Rondo clashed with Rivers -- it was billed by reports as a reason Rivers wanted out. Ainge put those questions to rest by defending his franchise point guard, adding, "Rajon Rondo had nothing to do with this."
Any desire by Rivers to take on an increased role that included more power also wasn't part of the problem in Boston. Rivers was tagged by the Clippers as the senior vice president of basketball operations to go with his coaching job but Ainge said that was never a part of his discussions with the Celtics.
So then, why did he leave?
"He felt like it was time for a change," Ainge said. "His opinion he shared with me, he felt like we all needed a change. That was his rationalization or justification. I don't really feel like there should be resentment.
" I think that it's clear that coaches are judged by wins and losses," he added. "Anytime you introduce a coach, it's unfortunate ... we're always based on the result. And I think Doc's been around the block and he sort of gets that. Maybe it just hit him -- it was really hard (rebuilding) those first few years in Boston. It was a real challenge."
Source: Quotes from NBA.com's live stream of Danny Ainge's press conference.