Ainge Discusses Rivers Transaction with Clips
BOSTON – The Celtics added to their future draft stock on Tuesday after completing a transaction with the Los Angeles Clippers that netted Boston an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. That pick was acquired from Los Angeles as compensation for allowing Doc Rivers to pursue a coaching opportunity with the Clippers.
Monday’s agreement is yet another step taken by Danny Ainge to position the Celtics well for the future. He has kept the team in title contention for the past six seasons, all while infusing young talent to the roster and maintaining a fantastic draft outlook.
Boston currently has eight former first-round draft picks who are 27 years old or younger under contract for next season. The C’s are in an excellent position to add to that crop over the course of the next five seasons.
With the addition of the Clippers’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft, Boston now has possession of 13 picks over the next five NBA Drafts. Six of those picks (their own five, plus L.A.’s) will be in the first round. The C’s also possess two second-round picks in the 2014, 2015 and 2017 NBA Drafts, as well as one second-rounder in 2016. All in all, the Celtics, according to NetsDaily.com, are one of seven NBA teams to own all of their first-round picks in the next six drafts.
The most intriguing part about this trade, as Danny Ainge was quick to note Tuesday night, is the fact that the Celtics talked the Clippers into relinquishing their draft pick with one key word attached to it: unprotected. Yes, the Clippers are in position to be a very successful team two seasons from now, but the door is open for that pick to turn into gold.
“It’s an unprotected pick. You never know what can happen,” Ainge told the media. “There’s been all sorts of circumstances that have happened in our league. To get an unprotected pick is very difficult to get in our league.”
The Celtics added a strong asset to their collection, but we’d be remiss not to mention the other end of this deal. Ainge was forced to relinquish Rivers, one of the league’s elite coaches, in order to acquire that coveted unprotected first-round pick.
Rivers exits Boston as the franchise’s third-winningest coach, with 416 regular-season victories. That total trails only legends Red Auerbach (910-450) and Tommy Heinsohn (427-263). Rivers also compiled a 58-46 record in the playoffs and took home a title with the team.
“We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers coaching,” said Ainge. “He did an unbelievable job. He has a long history of success with us in the last nine years, and we wish him the best in Los Angeles.”
Ainge, speaking at length to the media for the first time since these negotiations ensued more than a week ago, also took this opportunity to clear the air. He admonished the fact that many rumors had swirled throughout the past week and wanted to be clear that he had no ill will toward his former coach.
“I don’t think there should be resentment,” Ainge proclaimed. “I know how Boston fans are and all that, but I really don’t feel like there should be resentment. This may be good for everybody. This may be a win-win. Time will tell.”
With Rivers now out of the fold, the Celtics’ next order of business, outside of operating during Thursday night’s draft, will be to hire a new head coach. Although Ainge has some candidates in mind, he is in no hurry to fill Boston's head coaching position.
“I do watch coaches often as I travel around and scout NBA games and college games and so forth, so I do have some people in mind,” he said, “but because I haven’t had any contact or really had any consulting with my staff on all of this, I’m not really prepared at this time to address any of those questions.
“The only wrinkle (to our summer) now is that we need to get a new coaching staff, and we don’t feel any urgency with that. We don’t need a coach before the draft, we don’t need a coach before summer league. We don’t need that to happen fast, so we’ll take our time and look, unless our No. 1 choice makes a quick choice.”
That could, in fact, happen. Doc Rivers may is gone, but a talented roster, great draft position and great ownership makes this one of the most coveted jobs in the NBA.