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.
More Rumors in this Storyline
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
Storyline Hype Rumor visits per day for the last week
Views per day
May 8, 2021 | 4:25 am EDT Update
J. Michael: Just talked with a 4th league source on this w/direct knowledge: This is the first time TJ Warren has been featured as a main option on a team, will be paid like it, likes the smaller market and the plans for him regardless of the coach. He doesn’t want to go anywhere
During an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Countdown ahead of the Bulls hosting the Boston Celtics, Wojnarowski suggested Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans and Dennis Schroder of the Los Angeles Lakers as two potential targets. “Point guard is going to be at a premium for them,” Wojarnowski said.
Dane Moore: Karl-Anthony Towns was asked postgame about his exchange with Jimmy Butler, and Anthony Edwards stepped in to take the answer “Man, they grown men, dog. They just be talkin, havin a regular conversation, if you ask me… It’s no competition if we not talkin shit to each other.” pic.twitter.com/gDEP0hjbVZ
Chris Hine: Ant refuted my question earlier when I said the Wolves were getting a little emotional in the 3rd Q. @JaceFrederick followed up with “Who was getting emotional then, Ant?” Ant: “The zebras.”