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Doc Rivers Gives His Side of The Story At Clippers Press Conference

 

Doc Rivers met with the media at long last today. After a press conference in Los Angeles, Rivers held court with the Boston media on a conference call. We’ll have those full remarks later this evening, but for now, with some help from our friend Jovan Buha from ClipperBlog.com, here’s a number of candid comments from Rivers on his first day as a member of the Clippers coaching and management staff.

First of all, I hope this is the last time that I’m the center of attention here and I say that honestly. It will be about the players.

This was a strange ordeal over the last couple of weeks to the point, as you can see my attire, I don’t have any suits because they’re all in Boston right now. I flew in from Orlando. That’s where I stay in the offseason and I basically wear shorts and a T-shirt for the whole summer.

Opening Statement:  It’s really good to be here. This is a new challenge for me. I had nine absolutely amazing years in Boston. So, before I do anything, I have to thank Danny (Ainge) and Wyc (Grousbeck) and the ownership group there, the fans there, because it was an amazing ride. When I look back upon that and look where I’m sitting now, that’s where we want to go. We want to get to that level of winning. When Andy and Gary and I were talking, and I said it over and over again in Boston: It’s nice to do a lot of winning, it’s nicer to be the winner and that’s why I’m here. That’s what I want to do. Quite honestly, at this point of my life, that’s the only reason I’m coaching is to try to win titles. And, for us, we have to prove that we can win a series first and then build from there.

Q: What were the overriding factors that made you want to come here to the Clippers to coach this team?

Out of the year, I didn’t even have any factors. I had no plans of leaving. Didn’t give it a lot of thought, honestly. My thoughts were at the time – every year, Danny (Ainge) knows me as well as anyone – I put everything I can into a season and then if you ask me a minute after the season, I’m not coming back. I’m going home. I’m just burned out and tired. This lasted a little longer. So when Danny and I talked and I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, we just basically sat around as a team and said, ‘What’s the best way, at that time, to improve the Celtics?’ And we went in to talking about different scenarios and a couple other teams came up and Danny talked about assets — me and Kevin (Garnett) at the time – and then the Clippers came up and both of us, I told him, ‘Boy, that’s interesting.’ And you’d be amazed how from that point on, I really kind of stepped back and Danny kind of did the talking and would report back to me. I couldn’t talk to (the media) or anybody, so I was kind of left out. I thought it was really interesting. One thing I would like to make clear, I want to stay on the Clippers in this (press conference) more, there was never any threats, ‘If you don’t get me here, I’m not doing this … I’m not coming back.’ It was never any of that. It was just kind of a negotiation with Danny and Andy and if it all worked out, then I would consider it and that’s basically where it went to. And the closer we got to this thing that it could actually happen was the more I got interested in it. And that’s basically where it went.

Q: Do you think this team is ready to compete for a championship or do you think there’s still work that needs to be done?

Well, we didn’t win it last year, so there’s clearly work to do. Whether that (will) be with what we have … The reason that I wanted this when it was made available because of what they have and not what they don’t have. So, I clearly think this is an extremely talented basketball team. There were times last year when they were the best team (in the league). But what we have to figure out is with the group we have, can we now do that in the postseason as opposed to just the regular season. So, I like the talent we have here and obviously we’re going to keep looking to improve.

Q: Considering the complexity of this negotiation, how surprised are you that is has been completed? Because it has been described as one of the most complex negotiations in the history of the NBA.

I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I was surprised or not. On Sunday, Danny and I were talking about our roster (for the Celtics) and then on Sunday night, this deal was agreed upon so that’s how volatile this whole thing was and had been. I always think things finally happen and I thought that this just took a long, winding path but it found its way and so I’m happy.

Q: You guys in Boston patented an innovative defense with strong side pressure and the league has essentially copied it. Can you implement that here with the personnel?

On Pulling out of the deal over the weekend: “Yeah, if you want me to answer it quick. I did. I kind of pulled out of it myself, not from being mad or anything, I just had enough of it. It’s not like I was leaving somewhere. I enjoyed where I was at. I just looked at this like another great challenge and if I could get it, it would be interesting to have that opportunity. But after a while, I called Danny and said ‘Listen, I’m staying. I’m coming back. I’m coaching. That’s what I am. Let’s move forward.’ Two hours later, he told me, ‘No, you’re not staying. You’re going.’

 “I said I don’t want to take part in the negotiations anymore. And I really hadn’t, I just thought it was over. So it was easy for me to just tell Danny, ‘Let’s just start with the rebuild.’ I conveyed that to Danny. I couldn’t talk to the Clippers.

Rivers on his new position: “I don’t know what power is, to be honest. Doing more than just coaching isn’t really helping build the team. Danny and I did, but it was Danny. Danny did so much of the work. They are two (Roesner and Sacks). They’re the same stuff. But it’s nice having more input. That’s something every coach wants. I’ve been afforded the trust and the opportunity to do that. But this is going to be a team. We’re going to work together. We’re going to try to build the best team possible. I don’t like being called, ‘Coach’, let alone whatever else I am. I like being called, ‘Doc.’ So as far as I’m concerned, that’s who I am. We’re just going to work together. That’s the whole key in this. We have to be the best team up there so we can be a better team down here. If we don’t accomplish that up there, then we cannot be down there. It’s not going to work.”

 Rivers on talking to his ex-players: “Yes. They all went great. I haven’t talked to all the players, obviously. This has happened pretty quickly, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to all of them. I’ve texted some and gotten responses back. I’ve also talked to all my ex-players, or a lot of them as well. I’ve been doing a lot of phone calls of late, which is good. It’s going to be needed. We have the draft tomorrow, which is the amazing thing if you think about. I’ve been here 12 hours and we’re already talking about drafting players. So there’s a lot of work to be done. Free agency comes up after that, so we’re behind the eight ball.

  • glen lee

    let's just move on,celtics will be ok.

  • GymRat

    Doesn't sound like a guy who wasn't on board for a rebuild to me.

    When you consider that Doc legally couldn't talk to the Clippers..its hard to keep those torches burning that Doc somehow turned against the Celtics and was the one pushing to leave.

    Sounds like sheister Danny was pushing the cart the whole way.

    • Vincent

      What was Doc going to say? Yeah, a rebuild would hurt my won-loss record so I told Danny I'm outta here? You sure have a hard-on for Danny. It seems to me that Danny knew Doc's heart wasn't in it, and Danny also knew that Wyc would rather pay a coach $2m than $7m if we're in rebuild mode — and get a first round pick. Everyone appears to be relatively happy, except you. Support the Boston Celtics, please.

      • GymRat

        First Vincent, I'm pretty sure anyone putting as much time as me into reading and following all this crapfest is pretty much supporting the Boston Celtics. I really don't care if you don't like how I choose to do it.

        Second, I'm also pretty damn sure I'm not the only one that isn't happy about this. Do you actually read the responses? Please do.The majority certainly aren't beaming with the excitement over the amazing job Ainge is doing or how great that Doc is gone and KG and PP are next.

        Third, it's rather odd to say my loathing for Danny's ineptness qualifies as a hard-on. A softy would be much more appropriate as he doesn't do it for me at all. Nope. Not one bit.

        And since when is being a vocal proponent of keeping KG and PP and, yes, even (my offense is crap) Doc, together an "anti-Celtic" sentiment.

        You think sitting back and watching two classless men treat their supperstars like meat so they can "win" and "be happy" as soon as possible is something admirable because at the end of the day 12 guys are still wearing a f'ing Leprechaun and playing in the TD Garden? Then we definitely disagree on what being a fan and supporting the celtics means.

        And please don't insult me or my 27 years invested in this team just because we don't agree. I watched Bird be treated with respect. Danny chose to do it differently. But he sucked as a player too.

        • jman

          Because gym rat they want to win championships. Do you all think this team is champions? 1 championship in twenty plus years is not a championship team. However, thanks to those stars that the classless men are looking to shit out of this town, they put Boston back on top and made the owners a shit ton of money. But hey, fuck them right Vincent. Let's shit them out and show other stars how we treat our players. Yup, I see Lebron's Kobe's dwill and players of their caliber coming here after seeing how three of the greatest to ever play were treated in their final years.

          • jman

            And as gym rat also exclaimed, I watched them treat Bird and Mchale with respect to the end. What's another year or so. Rebuild around them, not force their exits to another team or early retirement.

    • tbunny

      Well which was it since you seem to know? Was it that he didn't want to coach a team without Pierce/KG, or he was fine coaching a rebuild but Danny is a cheap bastard?

      You're the one who said yesterday the problem was Danny's desire, erroneous in your view, to do a rebuild. Now the problem is simply that Danny wanted to clean house and started it all with Doc.

      It can't be both. Maybe the answer is that you don't actually know, and none of us will really know, so whining about who is at fault is a waste of time.

      • GymRat

        Well tbunny, when you use words like erroneous, one would think you intelligent enough to follow a simple thread. But clearly that's not the case as your response is simply distorting the facts of what I wrote. I've never called Danny cheap, but whatever.

        The problem all along has been Ainge changing course mid-season last year (possibly sooner) by being hellbent on a rebuild after committing to a win-now approach through long contract extensions and a no-trade clause for KG. The team gets injured and underperforms, so he tries to trade everyone and creates a toxic environment. Try and read slowly, as likely, by this point you're struggling to keep up.

        The deal for Doc to go to LAC was presented to him by Danny (per Doc's contract LAC nor he, could talk or it's considered tampering). Again, take a breath, read slowly. Wait, I'll help you understand what that means. It means Doc sits down with Danny knowing he is intent on rebuilding and that this plan likely does not include KG or PP….which was not at all the rebuild approach or timing of the rebuild that was laid out the season prior (reasoning here: why give KG a no-trade clause and tie your hands, and why give guys like Lee, Bass and Jet all multi-year deals that greatly decrease their trade value…wait for it…wait…because you sold your coach and star players on a win-now approach and a 2 year run with the band together).

        Now, flash forward to today, sheister Danny is talking to KG about waiving his no-trade clause and who he would actually do so for – knowing if he trades Pierce KG will want to retire. He discovers that KG would only consider a trade if it was to LA. Still following. I know it's tough.

        So…when Danny and Doc sit down Ainge to talk how the rebuild will go (aka does Doc get to keep PP and KG and possibly even Rondo) Ainge tells him he has an opportunity to trade KG to LAC and that if he did, LAC would like Doc to be part of that deal.

        Doc's response (according to him): "interesting".

        Was Doc willing to go through a rebuild that didn’t include KG and PP?

        Did Ainge really want to lose Doc just to trade KG?

        I concur, we’ll never know.

        One thing is certain, Ainge presented Doc with the opportunity to coach the Clippers (again, LAC can’t legally approach him or they would be finned or possibly lose draft picks or the chance to draft – ask McHale about that one) and this deal with LAC was always intended to include KG as it was the only way Ainge could potentially move him.

        Danny (being the idiot that he is – clearly the Clippers ain’t so smart either) didn’t realize the deal proposed was illegal and that you can’t package a coach and a player so he was forced to pick one deal or the other. He then had no choice. KG would not go to LAC without Doc (remember he has a no-trade clause so he’s in control of his own destiny – thankfully).

        So, Doc it was.

        To sum this thread up simply – Ainge is a bungling sheister idiot (though not cheap). I've remained pretty consistent about that to the ire of many I imagine. Oh, and the other problem is people who make personal attacks rather than present an articulate counter point – whine away, buddy.

        • tbunny

          It seems like you blame Ainge for rumors of trades that never happened and rumors of trades that haven't happened yet. I just don't see the point in getting worked up about rumors, particularly dead ones. So yeah, I lose the plot at that point.

  • GymRat

    In other news: Larry Bird rejoined the Pacers as President.

    Damn.

    • Morpheus

      I'm happy he went back there. Would have loved for him to pick up a job here in Boston, then eventually replace Danny as GM, but now he can continue being part of something great he created in Indiana.

  • james patrick

    I wish we could steal Thibs from the Bulls. That would make up for this.

    • Derron

      You and I are wishing on the same star.

  • Hans_Gruber

    Good luck with the Clips, Doc. I'll be rooting for you guys as my other team. Speaking of my first team though, Celtics better get it together. Stuff looks really grim for next year so far.

  • Morpheus

    “I said I don’t want to take part in the negotiations anymore. And I really hadn’t, I just thought it was over. So it was easy for me to just tell Danny, ‘Let’s just start with the rebuild.’ I conveyed that to Danny. I couldn’t talk to the Clippers.

    Boom. There you have it. At the end of the day Danny was 110% committed to a rebuild without Paul and KG, Doc wasn't on board with that.

    It all began when Danny dropped the "buying out Pierce" move.

  • jpbl1976

    Did you guys see Wyc's statements on the matter? Seems it started with Doc but now Doc's saying it was Danny and that he was coming back but Danny kept pursuing it.

    What I really think happened is that Doc wasn't fully committed, Danny told Wyc. Wyc probably wasn't all that happy that Doc hadn't come out in public earlier before the talks accelerated and so Wyc probably told Danny to get whatever he could for Doc and let him go because it seems obvious ownership wants to rebuild too. In fact, Wyc even said it was about wins and losses for guys like Doc.

    So basically, management wants to rebuild and Wyc said he hopes Danny can accelerate it. Doesn't that mean tanking to get Wiggins?

    This is just one of the most depressing off-seasons in recent years. For me, it's right up there with the summer after we lost to the Lakers in the Finals.

  • Pauper

    I think Danny and Doc can claim they're telling the truth. Doc made it known he would coach a rebuild team for $7mil while kicking and screaming. Danny and Wyc decided it might be best to get something for him and pay much less for another coach. If Doc was really interested in staying in Boston, he could have publicly committed to coming back a long time ago not letting weeks go by and staying silent when everyone was writing about it. If Danny really started this, why would he say publicly Doc is coming back??? That to me is the clearest evidence Doc was making it known without saying it that he was not interested in being part of a rebuild but deciding to stay with the Celtics is easier when compared to making $5 million less being in the booth.

  • jpbl1976

    One thing that doesn't get mentioned enough here: Wyc (and presumably more than a few members of the ownership group) has a Venture Capital background — just like Joe Lacob, who used to be part owner of the C's before he left the team to form the group that acquired the Warriors.

    Having worked in the VC field myself for some time, I can tell you that the mentality of a VC guy is different from the old school owner — someone like the late Dr. Buss — who cared about things like loyalty and continuity and other things that sports fans generally care about.

    First and foremost, VC people care about returns and performance. They tend not to get bogged down by an emotional attachment to their investments. The fact the Wyc is just one of the owners is similar to the way VC partnerships are set-up. Everyone has a bit of skin in the game — some more than others — but it's ultimately a collective that's after the best possible returns at the quickest possible time (i.e. higher IRR). There is usually a separate management company whose aim is to (usually) maximize returns under an agreed-upon set of criteria.

    Also, consider what Cuban recently did with the Mavs — the year after they won the title, he began to blow it up. While Cuban wasn't exactly a VC from the very beginning, after he made his pile from selling his company to Yahoo during the dotcom boom, he became one and like Wyc's group and many of the newer generation of owners, tends to consider things like returns and so forth when they make their decisions rather than just loyalty and so forth.

    To be sure, Cubes tends to act a bit more like a fan and appears to have an open wallet — but he actually isn't as free-spending as he seems: those fines he's paid were probably deductible as business expenses — and the equivalent donations he's made probably came with a tax deduction. Also, if I recall correctly from an interview he gave, Cubes mentioned that winning an NBA Championship adds about a half million dollars to revenue (i.e. 1/9 of what's paid to Courtney Lee). In short, Cubes might spend quite a bit of his money on the Mavs but he's still well-aware of the money implications and he's more savvy about it these days.

    That VC investors mindset is clearly in play here: Wyc, as the managing partner of the C's ownership group, probably has a mandate for championships but also the bottom line and Danny is simply his highest-profile lieutenant. Doc was apparently not — read Wyc's comments — he emphasized that Doc wasn't "management." When you're in VC, you judge your assets strictly on the basis of performance and not on whether you have a personal affinity for it — that makes it easier to walk away from money-losing ventures or extract more demanding terms from your VC company for every new investment you make.

    At this point, this should all sound familiar and explains why the Celtics are so willing — as a collective — to trade anyone and everyone and why they're so harsh on guys like Rondo.

    Ultimately, what I'm saying is that given the VC background of the ownership group — and Wyc in particular — we shouldn't be surprised at anything they do. The Celtics — including its players, coaches and even the building contract — are just another asset for them to be evaluated in a dispassionate manner. If the team happens to win a title, then they'll enjoy it — just like VC's celebrate when they have a successful exit — but make no mistake that they have their eye out only for the bottom line and what it means for them. Fans, nostalgia, History and loyalty all take a far backseat.

    • Morpheus

      Interesting take. Makes me appreciate the old school owners like Buss even more.

  • 1234

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