WESTON (AP) — Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and general manager Danny Ainge have been playing a lot of golf lately. They may have extra time to play more. With the NBA lockout in progress, the scheduled opening of training camp next week remains in jeopardy.
Rivers and Ainge fended off questions Monday about the labor problems between the league and its players association. Last Tuesday, a meeting between the executive committee of the NBA Players Association and the owners’ labor relations committee produced no progress.
Ainge was the coach of the Phoenix Suns during the last NBA lockout and has sour memories.
“Everybody wants to play and everybody wants to work. It’s not fun for anybody,” he said during the team’s annual charity golf tournament.
The Celtics have just seven signed players and cannot add to their roster while the lockout continues. They’re also working with a revamped coaching staff
“We’re just getting organized,” Ainge said. “It gives us some time to step back and re-evaluate the entire league and European players worldwide and anticipate the draft. So, we’ve just been doing all the little things and getting organized with our staff.”
During the offseason, assistant coach Lawrence Frank became head coach of the Detroit Pistons and took along another member of the Celtics staff, Roy Rogers, as an assistant. Frank’s duties in coaching the Celtics defense will be assumed by assistants Mike Longabardi and Kevin Eastman. Armond Hill will replace Rogers in coaching the big men.
“Defensively, Longo will be the leader,” Rivers said.
“Everyone will have the same input they had before. Kevin Eastman was really important for Lawrence and Tibbs (former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, now head coach of the Chicago Bulls) and that role won’t change much at all.”
Rivers said having a coach in charge of defensive responsibilities allows him to concentrate on coaching the entire team.
“You just have to let go,” he said. “It took me years to do it, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Ainge said the Celtics have been scouting international competitions, such as the recent FIBA Americas and EuroBasket tournaments. They have several spots to fill on their roster, although some of their own players who became free agents after the season could return.
“We have seven signed players,” Rivers said. “The tough part is not knowing the rest of your roster.”
Both Ainge and Rivers spent part of their summers following their children’s dreams.
“I’ve been following my boys around the AAU circuit,” said Ainge, who has six children.
The lockout allowed Rivers to accompany his son Austin, a freshman guard at Duke, as the Blue Devils traveled to China and Dubai in August.
He said he has enjoyed the time off but hopes the labor difficulties will end soon.
“Decompressing is always good,” Rivers said, “but we’re beginning to get antsy again.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)