Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke Wednesday about his son Austin’s decision to leave Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft.
Austin was the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, but the Blue Devils lost to Lehigh in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament. There was speculation that the early exit may have led the younger Rivers to return, but he instead became one of this year’s first one-and-dones.
“I think he’s always wanted to be an NBA player,’’ Doc Rivers said. “I don’t think he ever hid that. Coach [Mike Krzyzewski], one of the things he said was, ‘We recruited him as a one-and-done.’ Same way they recruited [Kyrie] Irving. That was part of what they talked to him about a lot before he got there.
“But he still almost stayed because he enjoyed it. He enjoyed Coach K. I’m happy for him. I really am. We had input in it. We let him have more input in it. And I’m just happy that he’s kind of at peace, he’s made his decision and now he has to get ready.’’
Austin Rivers is projected to be picked in the middle of the first round, and the Celtics own two first-round selections.
So, what if Austin is still on the board when the Celtics are on the clock?
“I would say, ‘Danny [Ainge], you’d better draft him,’ ’’ Doc Rivers said with a laugh. “And he could be [available]. That could actually happen. If it happens, it happens. We’re going to do what’s best for the team. I’m just not going to answer my phone [on draft night] because my wife will be calling.’’
The draft is June 28 in Newark. Doc said he likely will be at the team’s headquarters in Boston and not with Austin.
Allen out again
Ray Allen missed Wednesday night’s game against the Jazz but is getting closer to returning to the lineup from a sprained right ankle. Allen has not played since March 19. With Mickael Pietrus (concussion) also out, Avery Bradley got his second consecutive start at shooting guard.
“He’s not doing great enough to play,’’ Rivers said of Allen. “He went through shootaround [Wednesday] and didn’t feel right. So we’re hoping for Friday.’’
Allen has dealt with ankle issues over the past few years, but Rivers said his latest is not of major concern. Allen missed three games in January because of a sprained left ankle.
“He’ll be fine, I think,’’ Rivers said. “We just hope it doesn’t become one of those things that lingers where you play a couple of games and then have to sit out a couple. But I don’t see that happening.’’
When asked if he would give his veteran players extra rest during the final month of the season in preparation for the playoffs, Rivers said yes. But there may be an exception.
“The problem without saying a name is one of the guys you would suggest sitting, it’s not fun to get him to do that. The conversation is no fun,’’ Rivers said, likely alluding to Kevin Garnett. “Maybe he’ll see that, maybe he will not. But that will be an interesting discussion.’’
Garnett contributed his 16th double-double of the season Wednesday with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Chris Wilcox is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic to repair an enlarged aorta. He is out for the season but is expected to return to the NBA next season. He was waived last week to make room for Ryan Hollins on the roster . . . Greg Stiemsma said Sunday he is playing with a bone bruise in his right foot and plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He has yet to miss any action but uses walking boots following games . . . Rivers said one of the keys to playing the Jazz was rebounding, and Utah held an 18-9 edge after the first quarter, with Derrick Favors nabbing six in eight minutes . . . Rajon Rondo had 14 assists, and has double figures in assists in 11 straight games and 16 of 18. He is averaging 12.6 assists in March, two more than his season average.