BOSTON | The people that matter the most to Doc Rivers wanted him to keep coaching — so he will.
The Boston Celtics’ coach 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.
“A lot of soul-searching with the family,” said Rivers, who was in San Antonio on Wednesday to watch his son, Austin, play for the United States against Brazil in the final of the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship. “Talking to my wife, she was really the one who said, ‘You’ve got to.’ I just think she wanted me out of the house more than anything.
“My kids all said, ‘You’re a coach. That’s what you are. And you’re a parent, and we appreciate both.’ And so that made it easier.”
Rivers’ decision was first reported in the Boston Herald. Four hours later, the Celtics released a statement confirming Rivers would return.
“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 in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
“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.
Austin Rivers, a highly recruited guard who will graduate from Winter Park (Fla.) High School in 2011, scored 19 points in the U.S. team’s 81-78 victory. He scored a USA Basketball under-18-record 35 points Tuesday in the Americans’ semifinal victory over Canada.
The inability to watch his four children play in sports was one of the major things pulling Doc 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.
“It’s like my kids say, ‘You come to more games than most parents doing your job,’” he said. “It’s not going to be a big change. I’m still going to get to attend their games.”
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.
Rivers said he was “confident, but I’m not overconfident” about Pierce’s and Allen’s return.
“We want to go after this one more time, and we have Kevin (Garnett) and Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen) hopefully all coming back, so why not?” he said. “Let’s see if we can do it one more time.”
Without them, the Celtics would need to make a big splash in free agency to contend.
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.
AP freelance writer Gaylon Krizak in San Antonio contributed to this report.