NBA rumors: Clippers to interview Wes Unseld Jr for head coaching job

After five seasons in Denver, where Wes Unseld Jr. helped transform the Nuggets from a middling defensive team to one that finished 10th in defensive rating last season, Malone’s top assistant is in the running for at least two jobs. Unseld Jr. has already interviewed for the Houston Rockets head coaching vacancy and was scheduled to interview for the Los Angeles Clippers job on Thursday, a league source told The Denver Post.

More on Clippers Coaching Job

Sixers assistant coach Kevin Young also interviewed for the head coaching job, and he made a strong impression on the organization, sources said. The Sixers also interviewed Clippers assistant Ty Lue this week, sources said, but Lue is emerging as a strong candidate to replace Rivers with the Clippers. The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.
But those close to Ballmer knew it was only a matter of time before he put his stamp on the franchise. He made his fortune as a technology entrepreneur by constantly looking to innovate. And once he'd learned the ropes as an NBA owner, he brought that culture to the Clippers. Employees were urged to come up with new ideas and present evidence to support them. So when Ballmer and Rivers began discussing what had gone wrong this season, sources said that instinct is what led Ballmer to question whether a new way of looking at the team, or a new voice, is what the Clippers really needed.
Over the course of about 10 days following the Clippers' Game 7 loss to the Nuggets, the third consecutive game the team had blown a double-digit lead in the second half, Ballmer and Rivers had multiple lengthy phone conversations, sources said.
Ballmer consulted with Frank, minority shareholder Dennis Wong and consultant Jerry West. Before a final decision was made, sources said Ballmer called several key players -- including George and Leonard -- to get their opinions. Nothing the players told him, sources said, changed Ballmer's mind about moving on from Rivers. Ultimately, the decision to part ways with Rivers was Ballmer's.
Rivers didn't feel comfortable continuing as coach without Ballmer's full support, believing a solid relationship between the coach and ownership was fundamental to success in the NBA. Ballmer didn't feel entirely convinced that Rivers had a better strategy and approach to next season than a new coach with a new viewpoint would. It was made official Monday morning, but sources said it had become obvious over the weekend that the relationship had come to an end.
RIVERS AND BALLMER delved into all of these questions and issues in the 10 days following the season-ending loss to Denver. They simply could not find common ground on a vision for the future. When Rivers and Ballmer spoke Monday, the only thing left to do was discuss how they'd deliver and present the news, sources said.
According to The Athletic's Sam Amick, talk about Rivers possibly being removed started soon after the loss to Denver. Sources close to the Clippers said that owner Steve Ballmer was understandably furious at the embarrassing finish, but making matters worse was the fact that it was a troubling trend for Rivers, [who has blown three separate 3-1 series leads in his career].
John Hollinger: Losing in the second round was unacceptable for the win-now Clippers, but this is shocking. Insiders felt there was no way it would really happen, and the timing (nearly two weeks after elimination) is odd. Rivers is a top-five coach and immediately becomes a top candidate for any and all openings. Meanwhile, the question is whether the Clippers had already lined up a replacement, and if so, whom.
Mirjam Swanson: Official announcement from the team: “Doc Rivers Departs”
“I am proud of the success we have had here over the last five seasons, but there is more work to be done,” said Rivers. “We are coming off a year where our team battled through many challenges and much adversity, proving deep talent and even greater potential. I am looking forward to getting back to work on the court to develop our players and compete with the NBA’s elite.”
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