LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even Doc Rivers got weary of the two-week saga of his move to the Los Angeles Clippers.
He thought the unusual deal was dead several times, and he insists he really didn’t mind the prospect of returning to the Boston Celtics.
“I felt like I was the only guy in all this that was in a win-win,” Rivers said.
Rivers held two group interviews yesterday. The second was a conference call with the Boston media.
He was asked why he left.
“Honestly, that’s an answer – it’s one of those that there’s just no answer to it,” he said. “It’s not like I was looking for change. This kind of came about and I think that’s already – I think Danny talked about that (Tuesday).
“Let me start by saying this: I didn’t go into this whole process at the end of the year, I never went into Danny’s office, never had any conversations about ‘If you don’t bring Kevin (Garnett) and Paul (Pierce) back, I don’t want to come back.’ I never went into his office and said that if (Rajon) Rondo is there I don’t want to come back.”
He downplayed reports of major issues with Rondo.
“Rondo and I, our relationship has really grown and it’s good. Danny and I’s relationship was great. It’s the same thing really I’ve gone through every year – at the end of the year, I just don’t know if my time has run its course and if it’s time to change. You know that.
“Two years ago I thought it and I ended up signing (a five-year contract extension) because really at that time, I thought I had to sign. I just thought it was the right thing to do in the part where our organization was at. . .
“I just thought it was the wrong time to leave. Last year I thought about it some more, and then again this year, right after the year – listen, right after the Knicks game I told everybody thank you because in my mind after that game, right after that game, I was probably going to take a break.”
The Clippers think they’ve got plenty of winning in store after landing one of the NBA’s most respected veteran coaches.
The Clippers formally introduced Rivers at their training complex yesterday after dealing a first-round pick to the Celtics.
Rivers was simply grateful to end his self-described “strange ordeal” ever since the Celtics floated the possibility of moving the NBA’s highest-paid coach to a talented team determined to replace Vinny Del Negro with a topflight leader.
“The reason I wanted this when it was made available was because of what we have,” said Rivers, who also will be the Clippers’ senior vice president of basketball operations. “I clearly think this is an extremely talented basketball team. There were times last year they were the best team. I like the talent we have here.”
Rivers believes the Clippers have the ingredients to be a title contender, although unrestricted free agent Chris Paul is a major part of that recipe. Rivers’ arrival is widely expected to cinch a new deal for CP3 — and Rivers believes their partnership will lead to chances for championships.
“We’re going for it, let there be no mistake,” Clippers President Andy Roeser said.
“We’re going for it. We want to win, and we think Doc will help us get there.”
Rivers largely sat out the negotiations about his fate over the last two weeks, staying at his offseason home in Orlando while Celtics President Danny Ainge and the Clippers’ top brass hammered out details of the move.
Rivers gave up on the deal multiple times, even discussing the Celtics’ roster for next season with Ainge on Sunday, convinced he would return for a 10th season in Boston.
But it’s finally over, and Rivers has started to consider what he’ll do with his new team, which won a franchise-record 56 games and its first Pacific Division title last season, only to lose to Memphis in the first round of the postseason.
Rivers is eager to improve the Clippers’ defense while maximizing the potential of Blake Griffin and Paul, whose return is the franchise’s top offseason priority.
Rivers said he had already spoken to most of his new players and most of the Celtics.
“Very excited about the future with Coach Rivers and his staff,” Griffin tweeted. “Can’t wait to get to work. Thanks for all the support clipnation!”
Rivers was understandably cagey about any conversations with Paul, who was widely thought to desire an established, veteran coach in Los Angeles. Roeser has been steadfastly confident the Clippers will hang on to CP3, and Rivers’ arrival only made him more optimistic.
Roeser confirmed the Clippers won’t be making any player transactions with Boston in the near future, but said the Clippers “will be active in the free-agent market.”