"I do want him back," said Rivers. "I look at Paul and he had his best year of his career last year because of the changes we made. He realizes that. He understands it wasn't easy for him to do. And there were times where he didn't want to do it. I don't think he gets enough credit for doing what I asked him to do, even though I thought at times he didn't want to do it and didn't enjoy doing it. But he did it anyway. This year, when he comes in it will not be new. He knows what we want and I think it will be easier for him to do.
"I didn't think the Magic should have traded Tracy [ McGrady ]. I didn't think the Lakers should have traded Shaq [ O'Neal ]. I think you keep your best player. There are times where it's just at a point where things don't work for him or you or whatever. We're not at that point. We're not even close to that. Paul's a very good basketball player. Where we are is we have to keep trying to build around Paul. We have to get more talent for Paul. You're only as good as who you play with."
Rivers also commented on a recent article in the Globe in which two Western Conference executives said Pierce's extracurricular activities have damaged his reputation around the league.
"Someone said that a couple of GMs said that he parties too much and all that," said Rivers. "And I always say, whoever those GMs are they should watch their own teams. Having said that, that's not something you ever want said about one of your players, especially Paul. I don't think it's as true as whatever was said . . . I'm not worried about that."
As for the persistent talk of trading Pierce, Rivers said he prepared his captain for such rumors, fully expecting them after how the season ended.
"I think it's tough when you're a player of Paul's caliber and you go out the way you went out, that's the nature of the beast," he said. "I told Paul the day after [the Celtics lost Game 7 to Indiana], 'Don't think this won't be a summer where your name won't be bandied around because it will be because that's the way this league works.' "
Vote of approval
Rivers puts the odds of 50th overall pick Ryan Gomes making the team at "very, very, very, very good." The Celtics worked Gomes out twice prior to the draft and thought he had enough talent to be selected in the first round. 'We've made no promises," said Rivers. "It will be up to him. I would be surprised if Ryan Gomes was not on our team." Undoubtedly, that was welcome news for the Gomes family, who were in attendance yesterday to see Ryan introduced. Having attended Providence, Gomes is familiar with how the team plays, catching as many games as he could on TV. "I was hoping that I would be selected in the first round, but that wasn't the case," said Gomes. "So, after that, I still had to stay in tune and see what team I would be playing for. I know in my heart that I would be selected within 60 picks, it was just [a question of] what team it would be." . . . Undrafted Vermont star Taylor Coppenrath was added to the Celtics' summer league roster. He joins Tony Allen , Delonte West , Al Jefferson , Kendrick Perkins , first-round pick Gerald Green , second-rounder Orien Greene , Gomes, and likely Marcus Banks and undrafted Georgia Tech guard Will Bynum .