NBA rumors: Sixers adamant on keeping Doc Rivers

Reports have tumbled out in the hours since Philadelphia’s Game 6 defeat billing Rivers’ return as conditional, based on meetings the team might have with him and the priorities of all involved.  Sources who spoke to PhillyVoice have asserted there is no such plan on the organization’s part. The Sixers see Rivers as their coach moving forward, and there has been little debate about whether or not to keep him, as Morey’s press conference answer further drove home on Friday afternoon.

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Sixers have now watched three separate coaches since 2016 leave their bench from assistant roles (Mike D’Antoni, Monty Williams, and Ime Udoka) and make a conference finals within two years of taking the lead gig elsewhere. If nothing else, that should drive home their failure to capitalize during a run where they’ve had the high-end talent to compete.  For now, that doesn't appear to be the thought process in Philadelphia. Morey and others within the organization have backed Rivers, showing no signs of trying to push him out the door. It'll be easy enough to tell whether they're making the right call — they didn't offer him $8 million a year to remain in second-round stasis.
Gina Mizell: Doc Rivers on his job security: "I don’t worry about my job. I think I do a terrific job and if you don’t, then you should write it. Because I worked my butt off to get this team here. When I first got here, no one picked us to be anywhere. And again this year, the same thing...
Kyle Neubeck: Checked in on rumor regarding Morey looking to replace Rivers with D’Antoni. Was shot down instantly by multiple team sources, who noted the job Rivers has done this year in strange circumstances in addition to Embiid’s leap under Doc’s watch
There was no aha moment or event that led to the Clippers’ and Doc Rivers’ decision to mutually part ways on Monday afternoon, league sources told The Athletic. This was not an impulsive overreaction to the organization’s early playoff exit — or, specifically, the blown 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals — but rather an accumulation of philosophical differences through the years and, especially, recent weeks.
Following the Clippers’ premature postseason ouster, Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer held several candid meetings and conversations, league sources said.
Was the failure a one-off? Did the bizarre nature of the Orlando bubble, combined with players who had been sick with COVID-19 and others who had dealt with personal tragedy, result in a derailment? Or was it the outward manifestation, brought about by maximum stress, of issues that had been dogging the team for months? In the days that followed the Game 7 loss, the consensus within the Clippers' front office was the latter, sources said, and that forced some harsh realities to be dealt with -- difficult assessments such as: If Doc Rivers wasn't "Doc Rivers," would he have lasted as long as Clippers coach as he had?
And Monday, the Clippers did it again, cutting ties with coach Doc Rivers after seven seasons and six postseason trips. The official release said the sides reached a “mutual decision,” but people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised to learn the Clippers wanted to move on.
Ryen Russillo: This surprised Doc. From what I’m told he thought he was ok. But this locker room was an even bigger mess than I think we realized. Kawhi has never had to be a vocal leader and PG doesn’t have the respect of his teammates.
“Doc underachieved every year in L.A. but one (last year),” one Eastern Conference top executive told HoopsHype. “This needed to happen so they could hopefully reach their potential. They need to win big next year with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George having player options. Lots of pressure there next year. Not many coaches out there would be able to handle that.”
Playing for Rivers was a major component in Leonard joining the Clippers. Rivers will be running it back next season, sources said.
The two stars — Leonard and George — are under contract for one more year, and then they each have player options for the 2021-22 season. Rivers is rightfully being criticized for his lack of adjustments in the series, but discourse on his job status is premature at the moment. Playing for Rivers was a major component in Leonard joining the Clippers. Rivers will be running it back next season, sources said.
Although nothing has been made official, all indications are that Rivers and Ballmer have reached an agreement on a multiyear extension that will keep Rivers here for a remodeling job that will begin soon. This is big. This is cornerstone big. This is the Clippers setting the foundation for the post Lob City era with a guy who is coaching even better now than when he led them through the Donald Sterling crisis upon his arrival five years ago.
The extension of Rivers' contract will be his next big move, and here's guessing it won't be his last. "It feels like the start of something,'' Rivers said this week. "I feel like we're on a level playing field, not only on the floor, but off the floor. Steve understands what it takes to make an organization solid, he wants to do the right thing''
Rivers has one year remaining on his contract with the Clippers. It's rare in today's NBA for a head coach, particularly one of Rivers' stature, to enter the final season of his deal without some clarity about the future. The thinking goes that such uncertainty signals to players and staff a lack of faith on the organization's part. Sources say that there's been no meaningful outreach from the Clippers to Rivers' camp about a potential extension. When asked whether his desire is to remain with the Clippers for the foreseeable future, Rivers conveys a hint of ambivalence. "I love my job," Rivers says. " I love it here. I love the guys. I love the organization. It's so much better than when I got here. So, most likely, yes."
Several former Clippers characterized in Rivers a tendency to placate a player by telling him what he wanted to hear, on occasion even criticizing a teammate that player was beefing with. Rivers didn't account for the fact that players, even ones who aren't always simpatico, talk among themselves and exchange notes. Though players regard him as reasonably honest in film sessions and on game night, keeping inventory of what their coach said about specific players became a parlor game among those players and their confidants.
Doc Rivers: In the eye of the injury epidemic, his coaching and nurturing of no-names have been superb. Still, I cannot visualize Ballmer renovating the roster and retaining the coaching staff. There’s no question the reason Chris Paul wouldn’t extend and demanded a trade is because he couldn’t stand Doc or Austin. I’m told not one player has left who didn’t badmouth Rivers. Next season, those who stay will feel free to do it. Sources say a list of coaching candidates is being compiled.
Phoenix and Memphis already have made coaching changes and according to several NBA team executives there could be as many as 10 job openings this offseason. That list could include both Los Angeles clubs as well as the Knicks, a team that has performed better than expected under Jeff Hornacek.
As for Doc Rivers, he’s done one of his best coaching jobs by keeping a depleted roster in the Western Conference playoff race in the post-Chris Paul era. If Rivers is out he may return to television although his name will surface in Orlando and New York should those jobs become available.
Are the Clippers considering firing coach Doc Rivers, who had his front office duties stripped last summer and who has one season left on the five-year, $50 million deal he signed in the summer of 2014? Three people with knowledge of the situation say Rivers is likely safe for this season, with his championship resume still held in high regard and the injuries to four of five opening-night starters having made it unfair – in Ballmer’s eyes – to accurately judge his coaching performance this season. Point guard Patrick Beverley (knee surgery last month) is out for the season, while guard Milos Teodosic (out since the second game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot) and forward Danilo Gallinari (13 games missed with a left glute injury) are likely to return soon.
Blake Griffin fell down under the basket and clutched his left knee with 3:53 left in a 120-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. The team said he’s day-to-day and will be examined on Tuesday. A grim-faced Griffin dressed and left the locker room without speaking to reporters. "It didn’t look good, obviously," coach Doc Rivers said.
Peter Vecsey: Doc Rivers is listed as ‘doubtful’ for the remainder of the season. I sense Doc's demise is imminent, or sooner. Based on how the team seriously seems to have tuned him out. Yes, even No. 25. Especially, perhaps, No. 25. Based on (Paper Clip TV commentator) Bruce Bowen's post game analysis, in which he detailed how the players tuned out their head coach, without saying as much, of course. Based on Patrick Beverley’s “That’s the way I roll” oration afterward. Based on the fact my long-time Paper Clip source failed to return my phone call wondering if Doc will stop making home visits.
The Clippers haven’t won a game in three weeks. That’s why talk has been rampant around the NBA that Coach Doc Rivers could be out the door soon. It’s unlikely Rivers would want to sign up for a long rebuilding project, and if things continue to go sideways in Los Angeles, selling off pieces seems like the only logical step for the Clippers.
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