By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
In a stunning move, the Clippers and Doc Rivers have come to a mutual agreement to part ways. The team’s underwhelming performance in the NBA playoffs, losing to the Denver Nuggets after having been up 3-1 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals and missing out on the Western Conference finals was unacceptable and someone had to take the blame for that ineptitude.
Where I thought, all things considered, they’d bring this team back with a heightened sense of urgency next season, but clearly, the Clippers brass felt differently. In an official press release Steve Ballmer acknowledge Doc’s contribution to the organization;
Chairman Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers have reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as Head Coach of the L.A. Clippers;
“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous time.” Baller said. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”
“I am immeasurably grateful to Doc for his commitment and contributions to the Clippers and the city of Los Angeles,” Ballmer added. “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 this search and interview process immediately.”
Doc Rivers returned the kind words to the Clippers organization and once again fell on his sword by accepting that the team underperformed in the Orlando Bubble when he stated;
“Thank you, Clipper Nation, for allowing me to be your coach and for all your support in helping make this a winning franchise. 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. 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, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support. Thank you to all the players, coaches, and staff for helping us get here. Most importantly, thank you for the fans. We went through a lot and I am grateful for my time here.”
The 58-year-old Rivers, became the most successful head coach in Clippers history in his tenure as he compiled a record of 356-208 is seven seasons. Since his arrival in 2013, the Clippers made the playoffs six times and reached the Western Conference semifinals in 3 separate seasons. Though this past season is the season which they had true championship aspirations. In his final press conference after losing to the Nuggets, Coach Rivers was willing to take all the blame for them not exceeding expectations. Where I questioned some of the schematic decisions and lack of adjustments, I also wonder why it seemed these players needed additional motivation considering the immediate opportunities available to them in addition to the expectations thrust upon them!
Further confusing the situation was the thought that the players weren’t playing with a sense of urgency and needed some additional encouragement during this recent playoff run. I also asked Paul George about their lack of urgency they appeared to be playing with after their multiple losses in the Western Conference Semi-Finals this past season. I’m not sure this was on the coach.
You can blame rotations and locker room chemistry on the Doc, as it appears some of the players felt that he had a separate set of rules for Kawhi and Paul George vs the other guys on the team. In a recent article, I identified multiple reasons why we should have seen this collapse coming. I will add that Ivica Zubac needed to see much more floor time playing against his further countrymen, who was abusing his replacement night in and night out.
The Clipper are in win-now mode, so whoever they bring in as a replacement will have tremendous pressure on them to win immediately as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will have the option to become free agents after this coming season. So one thing is for sure, this next hire will be influenced by Kawhi in an effort to convince him to sign on for additional years. Let me know your suggestions for the next Clippers Head Coach by reaching out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or forwarding your thoughts to me at email@example.com.