Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers will return for another season, staying with the team he led to the NBA finals twice in three years for a run at another championship.
“Doc is a fantastic coach and leader and I am thrilled he is coming back for the upcoming season,” Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said Wednesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Rivers’ decision was first reported in the Boston Herald. Four hours later, the Celtics released a statement confirming Rivers would return.
“Doc is re-energized and enthusiastic about coming back to make another run at winning a championship with the Celtics,” general manager Danny Ainge said in the two-sentence statement.
Rivers did not immediately return a message left at his hotel in San Antonio, where he was watching his son, Austin, play in an international under-18 tournament.
The inability to watch his four children play in sports was one of the major things pulling Rivers toward taking time off from coaching. He said at last week’s NBA draft that he was hoping there would be some compromise that would allow him to give both his personal and professional lives proper attention.
Rivers lives in the Orlando area in the offseason, and his family remains there.
Rivers’ decision does not mean that the nucleus of the Celtics team that won the franchise’s unprecedented 17th NBA title in 2008 will be back for a run in 2010-11. Paul Pierce has reportedly said he will opt out of his contract and become a free agent, and Ray Allen is also due to become a free agent on Thursday.
Without them, the Celtics would need to make a big splash in free agency to contend.
Kevin Garnett is under contract for two more years and point guard Rajon Rondo signed an extension last fall that would keep him in Boston through the 2014-15 season. Kendrick Perkins, who could miss six months or more with torn knee ligaments, has one year left on his deal.
Rivers has a career coaching record of 451-380, with a 46-40 playoff mark. With the Celtics, he is 280-212 with a 41-30 postseason record.
He guided Boston to a 66-16 record and the Celtics’ record 17th NBA title two years ago. This season, the Celtics returned to the NBA finals before losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rivers said last week that it was a difficult decision between two families: While he has missed the opportunity to watch his four children – all athletes – compete, he has grown close to the Celtics’ players. He called Ainge “one of my best friends.”
“You look around the league, and you don’t see that,” Rivers said after the NBA draft, adding that both players and management have lobbied him to stay. “They’ve been doing their jobs, I’ll put it that way. So have the players. They’ve been very vocal in their support. But that’s good. We’re very close.”
(This version CORRECTS Corrects to co-owner in 2nd graf.)