Jackie MacMullan, still killing the game on ESPN Boston, uncovered a couple of fascinating nuggets in this must-read story on Thursday. According MacMullan, Doc Rivers was actively pursued by the Brooklyn Nets despite being under contract with the Celtics. Not only that, but last offseason he turned down an offer to be team president by his hometown Orlando Magic.
From ESPN Boston:
In fact, team and league sources confirmed to ESPNBoston.com that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was contacted by the Brooklyn Nets, who wanted to speak to Rivers about their vacant coaching position. Ainge, according to those sources, denied the Nets permission to talk with his coach, who has three years and $21 million remaining on his contract.
Last season, the Orlando Magic offered Rivers the job of team president, which would have entailed everything from schmoozing with corporate sponsors to running the front office. Though he had previously insisted he had “little to no interest” in running a franchise, the financial windfall and unilateral power that would come with such a position (not to mention the proximity to his home base) gave him some brief pause. Ultimately, Rivers rebuffed the Magic and determined he wasn’t done coaching.
It’s interesting that the Nets covet Rivers enough to request an interview despite his current contract status, but it’s potentially more telling/interesting that Rivers turned down the position with the Magic. Team presidents make a LOT of money (like, CEO of large companies money) and the Magic were clearly aware of the draw they would have, playing in Rivers’ hometown. Yet Doc turned them down.
Don’t get me wrong: Rivers makes a LOT of money. $7 million a year is more than all but a few of the highest paid professional coaches make, and it’s certainly an attractive position for him. And as we all know very well by this point, the connection Doc has forged with the Celtics is very real, as evidenced KG’s refusal to waive his no-trade clause and Doc’s emotional post-game press conference this year after the Celtics lost to the Knicks and last year after they fell to the Heat.
Still, it speaks to Rivers’ loyalty that he is willing to turn down a hometown job offering him more money than most of us (all of us, even?) can even imagine. I have no sources in my ear telling me anything about whether or not Doc will continue coaching the Celtics. But given this story and the tendencies toward loyalty Rivers has shown in the past, I’ll be very surprised if he isn’t on the bench in Boston next year, regardless of what the roster looks like.
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