Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn’t acting on emotion Wednesday night when he said he wanted to come back as Celtics coach. He told the Globe tonight that a deal to bring him back was “basically done.”
Rivers, who had a one-year option to return next season, is expected to sign a multiyear contract as team president Danny Ainge envisions his coach leading the Celtics through an expected transition period.
“We have to figure out a couple of things,” he said. “But we’ll get it done relatively quickly. I wanted to get this out of the way so we can concentrate on the summer and free agency. Everything should be done soon. We want to get this done as soon as possible so we can move forward.”
Rivers and the Celtics are still reeling off a five-game elimination in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Miami Heat. And it was apparent that the Celtics’ veteran players — Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — were unable to compete down the stretch of games with the duo of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
“We have to surround (the Big Three) with talent,” he said. “Miami is only going to get better. Chicago is only going to get better. To help Kevin, Ray and Paul we just have to add talent. We relied in those three to carry the load for years but we can’t do that as much any more.”
After a 28-point, 18-rebound performance in Game 3, Garnett combined for 7-for-23 shooting and 22 total points in the final two games of the series. He looked particularly fatigued and Rivers, who has been protective over his minutes in past years, realizes he may have to take more steps to get Garnett rest.
“Well the good thing is KG gets an extra month to get some rest and get healthy because last year since we went to Game 7 (of the Finals), he had a short summer,” Rivers said. “We have to do what we have to do to preserve him.”
Rivers said he is convinced the Celtics are capable of another run, even if they won’t enter next season as the prohibitive favorites. And the coach said he would not be against making lineup changes that would actually bring one of the Big Three off the bench
“I really believe that (we can compete for a title),” he said. “But we have to make the right moves. We have to get guys to surround the Big Three. And depending on what we can get, (making lineup changes) is something you would have to consider.”