What's Next For Clippers & Rivers?
Two weeks after the Los Angeles Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets, head coach Doc Rivers faced the music.
Now, the Clippers are looking for a new leader, while Rivers already has potential suitors lining up.
Rivers commented on his departure with a public statement through his Twitter account, thanking Clipper Nation and the players he coached during his tenure.
According to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, the decision to split and go into separate directions was mutual between the organization and Rivers.
In his seven years with the franchise, Rivers became the Clippers' winningest coach with a record of 356-208 while making the playoffs in six of those seven seasons.
Despite all of those regular-season wins with the Clippers, overseeing teams that featured All-Stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George, however, the Clippers only won three playoff series in the last seven seasons, all in the first round.
Rivers' Clippers teams also lost multiple 3-1 series leads in Los Angeles, first in 2015 to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals and once again this season to the Nuggets.
As a result, Chris Broussard wasn't overly shocked by the move.
"Performance-wise, how could you be surprised? ... I expected a lot but let's keep it real. It was essentially seven years of underachievement."
Chris Broussard reflects on Clippers moving on from Doc Rivers as HC after 7 seasons | FIRST THINGS FIRST
After signing Leonard this offseason and acquiring George from the Oklahoma City Thunder for a hefty price, expectations for the Clippers shifted drastically.
Once they fell short of those expectations, the writing was on the wall for Rivers, Shannon Sharpe said:
"This is not the result that Steve Ballmer envisioned when he mortgaged his future, as far as draft picks. ... Someone had to pay for this collapse and you can't fire all the good players, you can't trade all the good players."
But if Rivers desires to coach again, it doesn't appear that he will be out of work for long, with the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers both already reaching out to him.
As for the Clippers, former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach and current Clippers assistant Ty Lue will get a very close look to fill Rivers' vacant seat, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"A coach who kind of checks all the boxes, potentially, for the Clippers. Has been in the media spotlight, understands the glare of that having coached LeBron in Cleveland. Tactically very strong. A tough leader. He's a coach that's not afraid of confrontation."
Lue's loyalty to Rivers could be a stopping block, however.
As Nick Wright points out, if the split between Rivers and Clippers turned out to be particularly messy, Lue could turn down an offer out of an allegiance to Rivers.
Whoever winds up coaching the Clippers, they'll likely find themselves under similar championship-or-bust expectations heading into next season.