Rivers there to chime in
Son's presence changes things
Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be in close communication with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge during the draft Thursday night. But Rivers will be splitting professional and parental duties as he accompanies his son, Austin Rivers, to the site of the draft.
Austin, who opted for the draft following his freshman season at Duke, is expected to be selected in the first round, and could be available when the Celtics’ turn comes up at No. 21.
In recent years, Ainge has relied on his own observations and reports from team scouts in preparing for the draft. Rivers has usually delegated much of the responsibility for scouting, but this time he has been able to contribute more first-hand input than usual.
“Doc is always relaxed this time of year,” Ainge said Wednesday. “He comes into my office and he’s joking around, he’s loose and laidback. He’s on top of what’s going on, with Austin.
“He knows our opinions and what we’re thinking. Doc knows this draft better than any other draft since he’s been here, just because of all the kids who played with Austin in AAU and against him. So, he has a lot to offer us in this year’s draft.”
Rivers, who usually spends most of the offseason in Orlando, Fla., has been working in Celtic offices this week, Ainge said.
“He’s always involved,” Ainge said. “He’s in a happy place, loose, laidback. He’s playing golf and getting sun. And, you know, I can’t wait until for that to happen in couple months.
“Doc has been here all week, and so we’re getting all our ducks in a row, so to speak. He’s headed to New York with Austin, which is where he should be. He’ll be on the ‘Bat Phone’ and we’ll be communicating throughout the draft.”
Rivers will meet with Celtic draft choices “if they’re there,” Ainge said. “He’ll probably be on the phone talking to our guys. We’ll give him numbers. It’ll be like he’s in the back room here.”
Director of player personnel Austin Ainge and assistant general manager Ryan McDonough will guide the Celtics’ involvement with the Maine Red Claws of the D League. “We love the ownership, we have a good partnership,” Danny Ainge said. “Developing players is a big part of the game. We wish we had been able to give Jujuan [Johnson] and E’Twaun [Moore] more playing time up there [last season]. With the softening of the rules and guidelines, it make it even more important to have an affiliate and put our system in.” . . . Only four Celtics are currently under contract. Asked if he wanted last season’s players to return, Ainge replied, “I like our last year’s team. And I like the personality of our team and the individuals and the work ethic and the chemistry. Having said that, I don’t know the answer to that, but I would like to. Do I wish they were all signed? Yeah. Then I’d be playing golf with Doc right now.”
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at F_Dellapa@globe.com.