BOSTON (AP) — Soon after the Boston Celtics' season ended — on the last day possible — Doc Rivers finally got a chance to sit down with general manager Danny Ainge and discuss the draft that was just a week away.
"The first name and the first tape he showed me" was Avery Bradley, Rivers said after the Celtics took the Texas guard with the 19th selection in the NBA draft. "It was a guy he really wanted to show me. And then he said, 'I don't think he's going to be there.'"
Bradley was there when the defending Eastern Conference champions got around to making their pick on Thursday night, exactly one week after they lost to the Los Angels Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA finals.
Now the question is: Who will coach him?
Rivers has said he might step down so that he can spend more time with his family; he has three sons and a daughter, all athletes, and he hasn't had much time to see them play.
"I don't know yet," Rivers said in a TD Garden hallway shortly after the first round of the draft. "I'll have a decision very soon."
Rivers said he was looking at July 1 — which is also the start of free agency for players — as the deadline. In the meantime Ainge and the Celtics owners have been lobbying him to stick around.
"They've been doing their jobs; I'll put it that way," Rivers said. "So have the players. They've been very vocal in their support. But that's good. We're very close.
"(Ainge) is my boss, and he's also one of my best friends. You look around the league and you don't see that."
Rivers said the hope is that Bradley, a shooting guard in his only year at Texas, will serve as Rajon Rondo's understudy.
"He's really a solid backup," something the Celtics have been lacking even as they reached the finals twice in three years, Rivers said. "He could be a starter one day in the league. It's tough to do that when Rondo's in front of you, but he has a huge upside."
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Bradley averaged 11.6 points last year. As a high school senior, ESPN named him the national player of the year and the No. 1 prospect in the country.
Bradley is known as a strong defender and good outside shooter but a weak free throw shooter. Rivers' sons played against him in summer leagues and raved about his defense.
"He's an NBA defender right now," Rivers said. "He can play point guard defense against anybody in the league."
Not expected to return: Celtics big man Rasheed Wallace, who told Rivers during the finals that he would retire after the season.
"He was pretty definite. He basically said he was finished," Rivers said. "Nothing's happened yet, so he obviously has the opportunity to change his mind."
That puts a priority on finding another big man, either elsewhere in the draft or in free agency. Starting center Kendrick Perkins tore ligaments in his right knee and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season.