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Doc Rivers said he didn’t plan to leave Boston; doesn’t shy away from Clipper title talk

Jun 26, 2013, 3:28 PM EDT

Doc Rivers said he wanted to stay focused on the Clippers in his introductory press conference (which was shown live on NBA TV), but you knew there were going to be a lot of Boston questions.

Rivers admitted he didn’t plan to leave Boston — he said he went so far to say he wanted out of the negotiations and he told Celtics GM Danny Ainge he was coming back.

“I kind of pulled out myself, not from being mad or anything, I just had enough of it…” Rivers said of the drawn-out negotiations. “I called Danny and said, ‘I’m staying, I’m coaching that’s what I am, let’s move forward.’ Then two hours later he told me ‘no, you’re not staying, you’re going.’”

Through it all Rivers said what drew him to the Clippers job was the challenge — he didn’t back away from title talk and aspirations. Which is a new attitude around the Clippers.

“Quite honestly, at this point in my life it’s the only reason I’m coaching, is to try to win titles,” Rivers said. “For us, we have to prove we can win a series first and then build from there.”

Is this Clippers roster really ready to win a title?

“We didn’t win it last year, so there is clearly work to do…” Rivers said. “The reason I wanted this when it came available is because of what they have, not what they don’t have.

“I clearly think this is an extremely talented basketball team, there were times in last year when they were the best team. What we have to figure out is, with the group we have can we do that in the postseason as opposed to just the regular season?”

If the Clippers are going to contend it is going to have to start with more consistent defense and protection of the paint. The Clippers were a top 10 defensive team overall but allowed the second highest shooting percentage in the restricted area in the league and the fourth highest in the paint outside the restricted area.

Rivers had great defenses in Boston, but Tom Thibodeau was his assistant coach who set that up and Kevin Garnett was the guy anchoring everything and quarterbacking the defense in the paint. Can he run that same strong-side overload defense with the Clippers?

“With the personnel here for sure,” Rivers said. “I think offenses have improved, you can’t do it exactly the same anymore, I just don’t think you can, guys have wised up to what we were doing, but with DeAndre (Jordan) and Blake (Griffin) I think you can absolutely form an unbelievable defense. They are long, they are athletic, that always starts a good defense, and we have that in house right now.”

That Clippers roster is going to need tweaks, and Rivers will have input on that (more than he did in Boston). He will not get Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce — Boston plans to trade both of them and the stipulations in the compensation package for Rivers said the Clippers and Celtics cannot trade players until next summer.

Even with roster tweaks, in the end one of the most respected coaches in the league is going to have to get more out of the guys already on the roster — particularly Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan — if they are going to take the step up to serious contenders.

Doc Rivers isn’t backing away from that challenge. Instead, he is putting it right out there from Day 1.

  1. pmx8411 - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Blame Danny Aigne

  2. flyrocket31 - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    So, if the Celtics had just release/ fired Rivers and the Clippers sign him. then the clippers included the 1st Rd pick in with the deal to get kevin garnett. how would that be any different?….. it would be just one deal for garnett. and Rivers would have been released/ fired so it not a trade.

    • ras1tafari - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Not according to Stern. It only has to have the APPEARANCE of being connected for the NBA to reject those moves.

    • paleihe - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Cause from the very beginning of this trade, it was fairly obvious, at least according to reports, that the goal was to get KG, Doc, and possibly Pierce.

      Trades cannot include players for coaches. They can include draft picks and other consideration, but not players. At this point, any deal for KG would appear to be part of the Doc trade, hence the league has to reject it.

  3. ji8888 - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Doc is full of it.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      will KG shake Doc’s hand when they face off and if he does what will
      Ray Allen say, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

      • patfic15 - Jun 26, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Very good point. Pot meet kettle.

  4. thestewman3 - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    So this is what you meant about loyalty, huh Doc?

  5. readysethike - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    i sure hope 2k14 allows my bobcats to trade for greg poppovich

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Hey, fellow Bobcats fan! We’re few in number my friend; it’s as if pro basketball doesn’t exist in Charlotte.

      • stayhigh_247 - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        it doesn’t

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        Lol the bobcats. I traded some chump for Michael kid-Gilchrist o help my mavs franchise, but he sucked.

  6. jcmeyer10 - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Thanks Doc for the title but I should be thanking Thibs as a coach and then Garnett, Thibs, Pierce, Powe, House, PJ Brown, Perky, Rondo…

    Yah, you really took that team over the top…

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      I miss that team.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      In a few days you may begin to think Doc wasn’t even coaching
      Boston, it will be like a long dream and you just woke up, imagine that.

      • jcmeyer10 - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        Well, he’s playing it like that…

  7. ProBasketballPundit - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Those statements by Doc are full of crap. He’s trying to put it on Ainge that he got shipped out when Doc had clearly damaged his relationship with Boston and the Celtics. They couldn’t take him back after he tried to weasel his way out.

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Saving face can be an ugly process.

  8. azarkhan - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Doc didn’t want to leave the Celtics? He sure has a funny way of showing it.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      I believe Boston let him out of his contract.

  9. titansbro - Jun 26, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    If Doc really wanted to stay in Boston, he’d still be in Boston. A low first rd pick is not enough for them to give him up if he still wanted to be there. He was noncommittal from the get go. But hey, whatever. Good luck working for the worst owner in sports, the racist, slumlord Donald Sterling. A man who heckles his own players from the sideline will be a real joy to work for.

  10. hiphandla - Jun 26, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    If doc can’t bring them to the promise land it cannot be done

    • hiphandla - Jun 26, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      I think he did the Celtics a bit wrong in making it as public as it was. Phil Jackson time I would say.

  11. badintent - Jun 26, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Can’t wait for Sterling to offer Doc a tour of Sterling’s slum apartments in SC LA. That should be the highlight of Doc’s first day on the job.What was Doc thinking when he signed his contract ? Better keep one eye open when sleeping , Doc. the Kennedys don’t like snitches and double crossers.Good luck

  12. badintent - Jun 26, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    There goes your Hanes TV commercial with MJ. Sorry.

  13. elcapitanfiscal - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    If you hatef lebron for leaving, i hope u hate doc as well.

    Except lebron honored his contract, doc straight up bailed

  14. adoombray - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    It really doesn’t make any sense to restrict KG going there. KG has a no trade clause. if he’s willing to waive it to go to LA, then let him go. If KG comes back for 14-15 so he can give it one last go with Doc, that’s bad for the NBA and bad for LA because as much as I love Garnett dude is already on his last legs. if this is his last year in the league, then it gets wasted on a team that will be lucky to go .500 with the most overrated player in basketball, Rondo, as the only good player on it.

    But hey, on the bright side, OKC would probably trade Perk for a couple of those delicious bacon wrapped hotdogs that the street vendors are always selling around the Staples Center

  15. raycharlesj - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    At least Rivers waited until the season was over unlike Sloan who quit in mid season!!!!!!

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