scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Doc Rivers is home, deciding on his future

Decision of coach is expected soon

Doc Rivers could end up coaching the Celtics or the Clippers, or go back to TV.jim rogash/getty images

The Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Final. A Patriots tight end is being investigated in connection to a murder. The Red Sox are in first place in the American League East.

And still, the Celtics stole a sizable chunk of the local spotlight this past week as their gripping reality show starring Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers played out.

For now, Rivers is back at his Winter Park, Fla., home, deliberating his future.

A decision is expected soon, possibly as early as Monday, when Rivers is expected to return to Boston.

There’s still a chance that the Clippers could meet the Celtics’ asking price of a first-round pick, which could lead to the Celtics releasing Rivers from his contract, allowing him to head west to coach Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and chase another championship.


But as it stands, the most plausible options facing Rivers are A) to return to coach the Celtics for a 10th season — he’s under contract with Boston for three more seasons worth a total of $21 million; or B) leave coaching and return to the broadcast booth.

Sources close to Rivers have maintained that he still wants to coach, and if Rivers walks away from the Celtics, he’d be walking away from $7 million a year — the richest coaching salary in the NBA.

But it’s also well-known that Rivers isn’t exactly enchanted with the idea of coaching a rebuilding team in Boston.

Thus, his dilemma.

With all the posturing, ploys, and speculation surrounding the talks, the fact remains they won’t truly be over until the Clippers hire a coach who isn’t named Doc Rivers (they’re discussing potential contracts with Byron Scott and Brian Shaw), or until Rivers publicly announces where he’s headed.

The Celtics had scheduled a news conference for noon Friday with Rivers and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, only to cancel it an hour before it was to take place.


There was talk of postponing that conference until Monday, but nothing has been scheduled — yet.

All along, even as Rivers seemed more and more in a Los Angeles state of mind, the Celtics stressed that there are no hard feelings and that they do still want him back. “Bridges don’t seem to be burned in any way with Danny or ownership,” a source close to Rivers said.

Even if Rivers returns, his staff won’t be the same as last season.

Celtics assistant coach Mike Longabardi, who was Rivers’s “defensive coordinator,” has agreed to join the staff of new Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, a league source told the Globe.

Longabardi joined the Celtics’ staff prior to the 2007-08 season, and is obviously familiar with the new general manager in Phoenix, Ryan McDonough, who was an assistant GM with the Celtics before taking the Suns job last month.

A source close to Rivers said that Longabardi’s departure does not indicate that Rivers will not return to coach the Celtics. If anything, the source said, Phoenix wanted Longabardi that badly.

Except for assistant Jay Larranaga, whose contract has one season remaining, all the contracts of the other Celtics assistants are set to expire at the end of the month.

But Rivers’s status isn’t the only major decision looming for the team this week.

There is the draft Thursday, when the Celtics will be picking No. 16 overall and might look to add a center or backup point guard, both areas of need.


The team also is focusing on the future of Paul Pierce. Come June 30, the Celtics have to buy him out for $5 million or his $15.3 million contract becomes guaranteed.

League sources said that while Pierce is 35 and had a poor showing in the Celtics’ final two playoff games, there is better-than-average interest in him on the trade market.

Specifically, those sources said, playoff teams that are looking to make a deeper postseason push consider Pierce’s scoring and veteran presence valuable.

As for the 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, the Clippers have backed off trying to acquire the All-Star big man for now, a league source said.

The fiercely loyal Garnett has a rare no-trade clause in his contract, which has two years left on it worth nearly $24 million, though only half of the $12 million he’s due the second year is guaranteed.

And it’s considered highly unlikely that Garnett, who said during the All-Star break that he wants to retire a Celtic and be “buried in green,” would leave the Celtics if Rivers, with whom Garnett is extremely close, is still coaching the team.

So, in all, a drama-filled week for the Celtics only resulted in numerous cliffhangers.

Stay tuned.

Gary Washburn of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Baxter Holmes can be reached at