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.
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Following the Clippers’ premature postseason ouster, Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer held several candid meetings and conversations, league sources said.
After hours of back-and-forth, the sides concluded they had differing visions of the team’s path forward, leading to the mutual decision to separate after seven seasons together, 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.”
Evan Fournier: Wow le depart de Doc me surprend.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Coach Doc Rivers is out with the Clippers, sources tell ESPN.
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.
After serving as team president in the NBA’s coveted “dual role” of lead basketball executive and head coach, Doc Rivers is now a mere mortal in the first chair, a job for which he’s under contract through the summer of 2019. Sources with knowledge of the Clippers’ thinking say owner Steve Ballmer is eager to see what Rivers can do as a coach with more limited talented. With the Clippers playing a spirited brand of basketball after (and even amid) their late-autumn swoon, the powers that be have entertained no serious thoughts of a midseason shakeup.
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.
Marc Stein: Nine straight defeats, as well as the manner of tonight’s fourth-quarter surrender at Madison Square Garden, will inevitably foist hot-seat scrutiny on Doc Rivers … one of only six active NBA coaches to own a championship ring
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September 18, 2021 | 5:41 pm EDT Update
You’re here for at least the next five years now that you’ve signed an extension. Do you allow yourself to think – or dream – about what might come over that time span since you’ve talked openly about wanting to win a title in New York? Have you allowed yourself to think about how things might progress? Julius Randle: Obviously, it’s a process. Everything is a process. We’ve been building this from the ground up. But for me, personally, that is the expectation (winning a title in New York). That’s what I want to happen within that time frame. There’s a lot of things, factors that go into that. So obviously you’ve got to weigh that stuff in.
Julius Randle: But as far as myself, I know Thibs (Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau) is thinking (it as well), it’s just win at all costs. For me personally, that’s just how I prepare myself. I prepare myself to compete at the highest level of our game. Like I said, there’s a lot of factors (that go into winning an NBA title). But I trust Leon (Knicks president Leon Rose), I trust Thibs, Wes (Knicks vice president William Wesley), our coaches, Scott (Knicks GM Scott Perry) – all these guys, I trust. That was part of my process in thinking of signing the extension and that’s my goal, that’s our goal as a team and the guys that are around us. We want to be able to say that we won a championship here in New York. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than that.
Did you guys see the video clip of Trae Young at the Garden with WWE? Do you care about that stuff? Julius Randle: Yeah I see it. But honestly, I don’t care. Obviously, that’s (for) entertainment purposes and all that (stuff), so I let people enjoy it. For me, honestly, I don’t care. I honestly didn’t even watch it. Knicks fans, they’re going to make a big deal out of it – they didn’t like it (laughs). But it’s all fun and games and hopefully they enjoyed it.
September 18, 2021 | 12:10 pm EDT Update
The Rockets have officially re-signed guard Dante Exum and waived Tyler Bey to create a roster space for him, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw was the first to report the Bey transaction (Twitter link). With John Wall not expected to play for the team this season as it seeks to trade him, the Rockets were in the market for another point guard. The Rockets’ interest in Exum surfaced on Tuesday.
When the Timberwolves traded up to get Leandro Bolmaro last November in the 2020 NBA Draft (yes, it was less than a year ago… it still feels weird), the question was would it be a year or two before Bolmaro came over from Barcelona to play in the NBA. The answer is one. Minnesota reached a deal and Bolmaro will be with the Timberwolves in training camp, the team announced Saturday. This is not a surprise; he was expected to come over this season. He will be playing on a rookie scale contract.
September 18, 2021 | 8:54 am EDT Update
There are reports that Anthony Davis will play center for the Los Angeles Lakers this coming season with LeBron James taking the power forward position. In the past AD said that he does not love playing the five but can do it if needed. Lakers legend James Worthy thinks that the best option is to use the former number one pick in the post. “I think initiating Anthony Davis in the post is the best option,” Worthy said on Spectrum SportsNet. “I’ve never been one of those players to say ‘I don’t wanna play three, I wanna play four. I wanna play.’ I don’t know what the problem is, maybe who he defends or where he is on the floor. I think the five is a good spot for him. Because other fives don’t have a shot at guarding him.