The future of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with the Boston Celtics might be up in the air, but the team has reportedly made it clear in no uncertain terms that head coach Doc Rivers will return for the 2013-14 season.
Ainge refused to comment on the report when contacted but did tell MacMullan he fully expects Rivers on the Boston bench next season.
"Doc has told me he's coming back," Ainge said. "I talk to him almost every day about our team and what we are going to do moving forward."
Ainge said last week when asked about the possibility of Rivers stepping down that he expected the 51-year-old coach to return for a 10th season.
Rivers won his 400th game with the Celtics last season and is the third-winningest coach in franchise history behind Red Auerbach and Tommy Heinsohn. Boston went 41-40 during the regular season before being eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Knicks in Round 1.
From the moment the Celtics’ season ended, Rivers’ name became a hot commodity for teams looking to make the next step.
Count the Nets among those curious about the championship-winning coach. Brooklyn chose not to retain interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo after the team lost in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, leaving one of the more interesting jobs in the NBA up for grabs.
The Nets have two franchise-level players in Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, as well as veteran presences like Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. With an ownership group unafraid to spend exorbitant sums on talent—Brooklyn had the second-highest payroll in the NBA this season—Nets brass thought they could convince Rivers to jump ship.
Ainge put the kibosh on that conversation before it could begin.
If reports are to be believed, Brooklyn has made it no secret that it's looking for a high-profile coach to fill the vacancy left by Carlesimo. The Nets reportedly contacted Phil Jackson earlier this month and gauged his interest in returning to the bench, but the 11-time champion declined to be interviewed.
In an interview with The Dan Patrick Show earlier this week, Jackson called Brooklyn a "good situation" but said he rebuffed the Nets' interest. Jackson has maintained he has no interest in being an NBA head coach again.
With Rivers and Jackson out of the equation, it's unclear where the Nets will go next. Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times reported that Brooklyn has interest in Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, whose contract expires after this season. But with Memphis making the Western Conference Finals and Hollins saying he expects to return, the Nets might have to go even further down their list.
Rivers has made no statement on his level of interest—or lack thereof—in the Brooklyn vacancy.
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