Matt Slocum / Associated Press
Some things in the NBA are really shocking, but the decision of how to lunch with Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Ross A rare exception was.
Nobody saw it coming after the Clippers took a 3–1 lead with the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals. Most people traced coaches using the franchise through the 2014 Donald Sterling scandal, making the playoffs in six of their seven seasons and helping bring relevance to the most irrelevant organization in the league, closer to any coach Will not, which is not named Grig Popovich or Eric. Spoelstra.
The time was strange. It has been almost two weeks since Denver lost Game 7, and there was not even a glimpse that the exit of the River was even on the table. As of ESPN.com Adrian Wojrowski Rivers has two years left on his contract, reported Monday, and they are not cheap – his $ 11 million annual salary The highest for a head coach in the NBA.
The team’s official announcement called it a “mutual decision”, but, for what it was worth, Rivers did not thank the Clippers Nation nor the Clippers organization or team governor Steve Balmer in a statement posted by him. Twitter account. Draw your conclusions there.
Did the rivers succeed a seven-year tenure with the clippings? It depends on how you measure it.
The Rivers came to the Clare in 2013 after nine seasons with the Boston Celtics, including the 2008 Finals and two trips to the NBA title. With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and D&Jandon already having a big bloom, it was time to believe that there would be a move to upgrade Rivers from Vinny Del Negro, turning the Clippers into true contenders for the first time in franchise history gave.
Craig Mitchellard / Associated Press / Associated Press
From those expectations, the rivers became smaller. His Clippers never made the final, let alone won the title. He did not make it to the Western Conference Finals, despite being second in 2015 against Houston and 3–1 this season against Denver.
Most clippers’ early playoff exits can be explained away by injuries or other fading conditions; The two are inseparable The two blows goes 3–1. His best coaching job was the 2018–19 season, when he led a youth group in the Western Conference with eighth-seeded All-Stars and playoff expectations and unexpectedly led the Golden State Warriors to six matches in the first round .
Ultimately, Rivers won three playoff series in seven seasons, winning three series with the Rosters in the five years in which contests were expected. There is no way to spin that is nothing but a huge disappointment.
But rivers cannot affect the clipper Purely measured by on-court results. He brought stability and credibility to an organization that was nonexistent before.
When he was looking to move on from Boston after the breakup of Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen-Paul Pierce Big Three, he could possibly get a job. He chose the Clippers because he offered the most upside with Paul and Griffin. get A coach of Rivers’ stature, and willing to pay for one, he changed his perception around the league.
During the 2014 playoffs, when TMZ published a leaked recording of then-Governor Sterling making racist remarks, it was River who held the organization together through the collapse. He was about to address reporters every day about a dispute that he had no part in making. He was about to keep his players united (he considered boycotting Game 4 of his first-round series with the Warriors in response to the sterling tape). It was an attempt to maintain the morale of employees throughout the organization.
The Clippers needed a reliable, reliable public face as they reached the lowest mark of any pro sports franchise. The rivers proved to be that job, and then some. A lesser coach – a lesser leader, in fact – may be the wrong way, or take the opportunity to jump from a sinking ship. There were no rivers. And when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and the league facilitated Ballmer’s sale of the Clippers, there was no point in bringing the new team governor to the new coach. Rivers had proved that he was someone whom you wanted to represent your organization.
Je c. Hong / Associated Press
When Rivers joined the Clippers in 2013, he was given the dual title of head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations. After he was promoted to president of operations of basketball in 2014, that position as the most powerful man in the organization below the ownership level provided him with the gravitas to lead the team through the Sterling debacle.
Downside: He was not a very good GM.
As an executive, Rivers tended to fall back on everything he knew, signing past-head-giants he either trained (Pierce, Glenn Davis, Brandon Bass) or Boston In coaching against Matt Barnes, Hedo Turkoglu, Stephen Jackson). When the Clippers needed a new body in the playoffs in those years, they never had the depth to compete. Any discussion of Rivers’ playoff shortcomings with the Clippers should include his decision-making role in front of his own team, which holds his teams together.
It is no coincidence that in the summer of 2017, when Ballmer removed River’s front-office responsibilities, he could focus solely on coaching, with the Clippers’ roster starting to make a lot more sense. The payoff was the 2018–19 run, led by Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montreal Hurl and Rocky point guard Shay Gillies-Alexander. Rivers’ responsibilities would have been spread too thin to fully spread across that group if she still had her front-office job, and Lawrence Frank and Michael Winger were able to make her a quality roster.
It was the latest chapter in Ballmer’s long-term quest to turn the Clippers into a destination, a true contender for the Lakers, and it appeared to work last summer when Kavi Leonard signed with him in free agency, Paul Bring George with you. Blockbuster Trade.
The fact that a superstar was also chasing the Lakers Chose clippers A testament to how far the organization had come in the years following Sterling’s expulsion. And rivers were a big part of that.
Calvin Koo / Associated Press
He is one of the NBA’s most prominent and credible voices on social justice in the Orlando bubble. He has played a role as a leader in the field, as he did in advancing the Clippers in Sterling’s day.
It’s disturbing, but it’s worth noting that since his exit, the Indiana Pacers ‘Nate McMillan and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Alvin Gentry have only four black head coaches left in the NBA, with firearms earlier this summer: Phoenix Suncity Monty Williams, Atlanta Hawks ‘Lloyd Pearce, Cleveland Cavaliers’ JB Bickerstaff and Detroit Pistons Dwayne Casey. With more scrutiny (rightly) on the game’s worldwide diversity, the NBA’s longest tenure and sudden departure of the most respected black coach is no good.
With the rivers gone, it is unclear where the shear will go to find his successor. The logical move would seem to elevate his top assistant, Tyronn Lue, a championship coach by himself, who is associated with this year’s highest-profile opening.
Rivers will be fine. An hour after the news of his breakup with Clippers (as soon as he has less than an hour) he will get another job, UndefeatedOf Mark J. Spears Told that the Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers have already reached out). If he wants a break from coaching, he can easily go back to his old job as a television analyst, which he excelled at.
Whatever rivers decide to do next, it will have supporters in all corners of the basketball world. The Clippers’ disappointing playoff record during his time is a big part of his story, but he represents so much more.
Sean Haikin covered the NBA for Bleacher Report. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and lives in Portland. His work has been honored by the Pro Basketball Writers Association. Walk on it Twitter, Instagram and in the B / r app.