CHICAGO — After Doc Rivers left the door slightly ajar on the possibility of him stepping down as coach, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge promptly shut it Thursday afternoon, confirming that Rivers will return for a 10th season.
Rivers did not join his cohorts at the NBA Draft Combine because of a strained hamstring suffered playing tennis last Sunday, but Ainge said Rivers is on board with the team’s retooling efforts and will be back.
“Yeah (he’ll be back), Doc and I are talking about our team next year,” Ainge said. “(No suspense) from my perspective. We’ve got a great coach. We’ve got a coach everybody would love to have and he’s got three years left on his contract and I think Doc likes Boston, too.Coaches get tired, though. It’s a hard job.
“You guys are the only one (who made it an issue).”
Rivers said after the Celtics’ 88-80 loss to the New York Knicks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference playoffs that he would consider his future in coming weeks. But he never appeared seriously close to stepping down. He signed a five-year contract extension two years ago.
With Rivers back, the Celtics can now begin formulating their roster for next season. Ainge said he has not talked with Kevin Garnett, who will turn 37 on Sunday and is considering retirement.
“I don’t think I have the answers that Kevin will want,” Ainge said. “So I gotta figure there’s a lot to do (before we talk) and I think there’s a lot of questions in Kevin’s mind as there is every year, to determine whether he’s coming back. I’m not ready to answer everything that he will want to know.”