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Doc Rivers has agreed to a five-year contract extension as Celtics coach, a deal that would keep him in Boston to help rebuild the franchise when the Big Three era is done.
"I think Doc is the best coach in the league. So it's great for us," general manager Danny Ainge said Friday in his wrapup news conference at the team's practice facility. "Doc wants to be here. It's not all because he thinks that over the next five years we will have the best team in the NBA.
"He's part of this franchise. He wants to do what it takes for us to be successful."
One year after Rivers waited into the summer to make up his mind to return for just one year, he decided quickly on a long-term deal. It was discussed in training camp, shelved during the season and then revisited after the first-round sweep over the New York Knicks in the playoffs gave them a chance to talk.
"He just wanted to come back this year and see how it was going to be," Ainge said. "Doc has always known that we wanted him. That offer was on the table."
Rivers has coached the Celtics for the past seven seasons, winning the NBA title in 2008 and reaching the finals in 2010 before losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers. This year, Boston swept the New York Knicks in four games before losing to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games.
Rivers had said after the Celtics 97-87 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday night that he was "leaning heavily" toward coming back, but he was expected to return on a short-term deal to make one more run at a title with the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Instead, the five-year deal would give him the chance to lead the franchise into its next era.
Also Friday, Ainge said Jermaine O'Neal will have "pretty serious surgery" on broken bones in his left wrist, which could involved having pins or screws implanted. O'Neal, who is left-handed, was injured when he took a charge in the Knicks series and landed on his wrist.
Ainge also said that he was waiting to hear from Shaquille O'Neal whether the future Hall of Famer wants to return. O'Neal played a total of just 18 minutes since Feb. 1, making just two, short appearances in the playoffs.
Ainge said O'Neal worked hard to get better, but he reinjured his right calf when he returned in the regular season. The team expected him to improve, but he never really did.
"I feel bad for Shaq," Ainge said. "It was hard for me to watch."
This program aired on May 13, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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