Rivers on Darko, Rondo's assist streak

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
10:15
AM ET
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireCeltics coach Doc Rivers understands the frustrations of center Darko Milicic.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he understands Darko Milicic's situation and has informed the 10th-year veteran that it is his decision whether he'll stay with the Boston Celtics the remainder of the season.

Making his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM), Rivers acknowledged that Milicic is dealing with family issues in his native Serbia, coupled with a frustration from a limited role with Boston so far this season, and Rivers will allow Milicic to make a final decision about his future.

A Yahoo! Sports report Monday indicated Milicic is leaning heavily towards leaving the Celtics.

"Well, it’s up to him right now," said Rivers. "He has some family issues, more his [ill] mom, and not playing and being in another country. The NBA hasn’t exactly gone great for him over his career. So it’s a lot of reasons for him to want to leave. I understand that, and I told him that. I pretty much left it up to him. He has my blessing either way."

Rivers said the Celtics won't be in a rush to fill that roster spot if Milicic elects to depart.

"I don’t think we are in any rush to [fill the spot]," said Rivers. "If we see somebody out there that we think could help us, if Darko leaves, then yes. If not, patience usually helps in our league, especially after the All-Star break [when] guys get released, or other guys become available. I think we’ll be patient."

Rivers was also asked about his decision to leave Rajon Rondo on the floor late in Sunday's lopsided loss in Detroit with the goal of prolonging Rondo's double-digit assist streak. Rondo now owns a 34-game stretch and is approaching John Stockton (37) and Magic Johnson (46).

"[The streak] doesn’t matter that much to me, honestly," said Rivers. "I can tell you, I honestly didn’t know about it until maybe a week ago. Because I don’t read much stuff, then I heard the chatter before games -- the reporters were asking about it, so then you know about it. I think it does matter to [Rondo], there’s no doubt about that. I just don’t want it to matter more than just playing his game. And I think for the most part, he’s done that.

"The other night, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘We’re going to lose the game,’ with five minutes left you could clearly see that, and that’s the first time I’ve turned around and asked someone, ‘Hey, how many assists does Rondo have?’ And he had eight and I decided to leave him in to see if he could get two more."

The Celtics host two Western Conference powers this week in San Antonio (Wednesday) and Oklahoma City (Friday). How will Rivers spend Thanksgiving in between?

"I’m going to fly home after the [Spurs] game, then fly right back," he said. "I’m going to have a very expensive turkey."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9