Los Angeles Clippers head coach and VP of basketball operations Doc Rivers said the reason he left the Boston Celtics was because the team “wanted draft picks and they wanted to drop contracts – I was one of those contracts.”
Rivers joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz on Friday to explain his departure from Boston and his opportunity with the Clippers.
“I think you saw why yesterday with the draft; people don’t completely understand what was going on. I had the opportunity because of what was going on,” Rivers said of Boston’s rebuilding. “The bottom line was the Celtics wanted draft picks and they wanted to drop contracts – I was one of those contracts. If I wanted to come back, they would have been willing to take me back. But at the same time, I feel they wanted to get out of it and it was a great win for me as well.”
“We worked on this together, there was never any arguing, never any threatening. Danny was terrific, and I think Danny did terrific last night,” he said of the Celtics’ trade with the Nets that sends Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry for a bundle of players and draft picks.
“I know it’s hard for people to believe, but Danny and I were great through this whole thing,” said Doc. “Danny knew what he had to do, he really did. He knew it would be difficult, he knew he would need my help in it, and it worked out. I’m the one that took the hit; I can tell you internally I’ve been thanked that I’d been willing to do that.”
“In return for me, I got to coach a team that has a chance. We have a lot of work here, but for me, it was a win-win,” said Rivers the Clippers. “It’s not how I thought I would end my run in Boston, but if you were in this position or anyone else, you’d have to look at it. That’s what I did.”
Rivers said he would have coached the Celtics even if Garnett and Pierce weren’t going to be around.
“I told Danny I was going to come back if the Clipper deal didn’t get done. That was the bottom line. But Garnett and Paul probably weren’t going to be here. They were going to get moved whether I came back or not,” he said.
So, what was Rivers best memory in Boston?
“I had a great run for nine years and it was amazing. This morning, I don’t know who asked me, what was my favorite memory in Boston, and I think you would assume it was 20008 when we won the title on our home court and the Gatorade bath. It was last year against Miami in Game 6. We were getting destroyed and LeBron was having the game of games. Most fans in most areas leave the arena. But what they did at the end of that game, for me, and I’m an emotional guy, that was amazing,” said Doc. “That’s one of my favorite sporting moments, with fans. I just thought our team just got the city and connected the way a lot of teams done. To me, that was the best moment.”