Reimer: With Clippers heading back towards irrelevance, Doc Rivers gets his comeuppance
Four years ago, Doc Rivers left the Celtics because he didn’t want to undergo a rebuilding process. So he was traded to the Clippers, who appeared to be on the cusp of championship contention.
But now, with Chris Paul heading to the Rockets, the Clippers seem destined for a long spell of losing. The Celtics, meanwhile, just posted a 53-win season and are poised to make at least one big splash this summer. While Boston is making its way back to the top, the Clippers are heading back towards irrelevance. Rivers’ comeuppance has been served.
Los Angeles shipped Paul to the Rockets Wednesday, according to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Paul, 32, agreed to opt in to the final year of his $24.2 million contract, so the Clippers could garner some assets in return for him. Houston sent guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, a 2018 first-round pick and other pieces over to LA.
Paul, who’s reportedly been vying to play with James Harden, never advanced past the second-round of the playoffs under Rivers. His departure seemingly makes it more likely that Blake Griffin will sign elsewhere in free agency –– perhaps with the Celtics –– leaving the Clippers with DeAndre Jordan and a bunch of spare parts.
It’s been a swift return to dormancy for the Clippers, who were the stars of free agency just two summers ago. Paul and Griffin, along with Rivers, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce, practically held Jordan hostage in his house, not letting him leave until he decided to join them. Now, Jordan will probably be left to fend for himself on LA’s No. 2 team.
Don’t agree with the furniture layout but I’m not an interior designer. pic.twitter.com/23PNgQB88z
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) July 9, 2015
With Lonzo Ball at point guard and Magic Johnson in the owner’s box –– not to mention LaVar Ball in the stands –– the Lakers have restored their rightful place as the premier franchise in Los Angeles. The gap will probably only widen, too, especially if LeBron James decides to don purple and gold next year.
Rivers, fresh off his run in Boston, was on the verge of becoming one of the league’s revered statesmen when he first took control of the Clippers –– one notch below Gregg Popovich and Pat Riley. He played his hand perfectly during the Donald Sterling saga, threatening to quit if Sterling remained associated with the organization. Of course, since Sterling’s history of racism was well known –– he paid the largest housing discrimination settlement in U.S. history in 2009 –– Rivers’ newfound righteousness reeked of opportunism. But it turned him into more than a basketball coach. Suddenly, Rivers became a venerated figure.
“If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster,” then interim-CEO Dick Parsons testified in state court, via ESPN. “Doc is the father figure of the team. Chris [Paul> is the on-court captain of the team. But Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He’s the coach, the grown-up, he’s a man of character and ability –– not just in a basketball sense, but in the ability to connect with people and gain their trust. The team believes in him and admires and loves him. If he were to bail, with all the other circumstances, it would accelerate the death spiral.”
Less than one month later, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the team for a whopping $2 billion. The Clippers were at the center of the basketball world, but then they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Rockets in the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals. The Clippers were bounced in the first round in 2015 and 2016.
These playoff failings have turned Rivers into a punchline, with his penchant for signing washed-up role players from the Eastern Conference and decision to rescue son Austin Rivers from unemployment. According to ESPN’s Michael Eaves, Paul grew to despise Doc Rivers, due to the favorable treatment he gave his son.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis tried to pinpoint Doc Rivers’ struggles with the Clippers earlier this year during an episode of FS1’s “Undisputed.” “He’s fishing for things that he once had, but at the same time he’s with another team,” Davis said. “So, being a coach, you have to adjust.”
Rivers was desperate to flee the Celtics, but now his track record in Boston is the only thing propping him up. Under Brad Stevens, the Celtics returned to the playoffs just two years after Rivers had left. They’re better off without him.
Rivers demurs whenever he’s asked about leaving Boston, saying he doesn’t regret his decision. But now, as he prepares to enter the basketball abyss, his answer might be different.
Author’s note: this column was updated to include the report about Chris Paul’s rift with Doc Rivers.
Full article @ Reimer: With Clippers heading back towards irrelevance, Doc Rivers gets his comeuppance
Source: GreenStreet Blog