On Monday, after seven seasons, multiple second-round playoff exits and nearly two weeks removed from being on the wrong side of one of the biggest playoff upsets in NBA history, Doc Rivers and the Temecula Clippers (Los Angeles no longer claims the Clippers after their revolting performance in the playoffs, so the franchise has since relocated to Temecula) have mutually agreed to part ways, per ESPN.
The “mutual” part is under dispute, however, as the LA Times reports Austin Rivers’ daddy was “surprised” that the Clippers no longer wanted to frolic on the beach together or hold his hand in public. So basically the Clippers left him on read for a few weeks and he found out they were out here living their best life on Bumble when everyone else did.
I never want to see anyone lose their job unless they stole an election, don’t pay taxes or kill Black people for a living like far too many police officers do, but is anyone really surprised this happened? Yes, he’s easily the best coach in team history, collecting the most wins, owning the highest win percentage, and making the most playoff appearances, but Doc’s entire tenure has also been marred by failure.
Despite boasting deep rosters that have included Kawhi Leonard, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Paul George, Lou Williams, Chris Paul and plenty of other firepower, the dude never—not once—got past the second round of the playoffs. And sure, you can point the finger at Griffin and Paul’s propensity to get injured at the absolute worse times as a contributing factor, but when you’ve blown multiple 3-1 series leads throughout your coaching career that blame can’t fall entirely on your players.
“We didn’t meet [expectations]. That’s the bottom line,” Rivers told reporters after the Clippers’ Game 7 loss earlier this month. “I’m the coach and I’ll take any blame for it. But we didn’t meet our expectations, clearly.”
Doc had to go.
“When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization,” Doc said in a statement. “While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through. Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, [Clipper Nation is] right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support.”
“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” team chairman Steve Ballmer said in a statement on Monday. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”
But it was clear he couldn’t take this franchise to the next level, which ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explained on ESPN’s Get Up Tuesday morning.
“Blowing a 3-1 lead to Denver in the conference semifinals,” Woj said. “Not as simple as that, but this is an owner, Steve Ballmer, this is a win-now team, certainly, with the Clippers. He was not willing to just run this thing back next year without some dramatic change, and that started with Doc Rivers yesterday.”
In addition to having a new coach, the Clippers might be in for a major overhaul as they attempt to convince Leonard and George to stay with the team beyond the 2020-21 season. Montrezl Harrell, Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. are all free agents who won’t be cheap to re-sign, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverly aren’t getting any younger and how much of this chemistry-less, underwhelming squad do you really want to keep?
Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, and former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni are some of the names being tossed around as Doc’s replacement. And whoever gets the job is not only gonna need to help figure out this roster but to install a championship culture so this team can finally rid itself of its horrible track record.
“I am immeasurably grateful to Doc for his commitment and contributions to the Clippers and the city of Los Angeles,” Ballmer said. “I am also extremely confident in our front office and our players. We will find the right coach to lead us forward and help us reach our ultimate goals. We will begin the search and interview process immediately.”
Good luck in Temecula, Clippers.