Ainge reaffirms belief Rivers will be back

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge reaffirmed Thursday that he believes coach Doc Rivers will be back for the 2013-14 season.

Speaking with reporters at the pre-draft combine in Chicago, Ainge suggested again that -- until Rivers tells him otherwise -- he is progressing as if the coach will be back for a 10th season on the Boston bench.

"Doc and I are talking about our team next year," Ainge told the Boston Globe. "(There is no suspense) from my perspective. We've got a great coach. We've got a coach everybody would love to have and he's got three years left on his contract, and I think Doc likes Boston too."

Ainge told the Boston Herald: "I don't even know why I get asked [about Rivers' future]. Doc is coaching next year. As far as everything I know, he's going to be our coach."

Rivers signed a five-year, $35 million extension after the 2010-11 season, which leaves him under contract for three more seasons. As he does at the completion of each campaign, Rivers left the door open to potentially walk away from coaching. But after Boston's Game 6 loss to the New York Knicks earlier this month, even he said, "I'm coming back until I say I'm not."

Rivers hasn't said anything definitive on his future since Boston's season ended.

During an appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI last week, Ainge said of Rivers' future: "Doc is always unsure. Coaching is very, very draining. Every year with Doc, he’s had to go home and sort of recharge and ask himself that question, ‘Is this something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing?’ I understand that. And we sort of give him time to unwind and relax, and after a couple of 92s on the golf course, he usually comes back."

Pressed further in that interview on what Rivers will do next season, Ainge added, "I think Doc will be coaching the Boston Celtics."

Ainge told reporters that Rivers is not at the combine after straining his hamstring playing tennis last week.