Clippers president and head coach Doc Rivers made an appearance this week on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast at The Vertical, and Rivers made several interesting comments about his team’s offseason and its future.
Notably, Rivers indicated that the Clippers were “in the top three at the very end” in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, a statement which seems to be odds with reports that surfaced at the time. A Los Angeles Times story published two days before Durant announced his decision suggested that the Clippers had been informed they were out of the running. Based on Rivers’ comments, it’s possible the Clips found out they weren’t one of Durant’s top two choices and decided to move on and lock up other free agents rather than waiting for his final decision.
Rivers spoke more extensively about his club’s pursuit of Durant and touched on several other noteworthy topics, so let’s round up a few of the highlights, courtesy of RealGM.com:
On how the Clippers’ cap limitations affected their pursuit of Durant:
“We had to actually ask each guy to take a hit financially. We needed Kevin to take a hit this year to fit and next year we would have needed Blake [Griffin] and Chris [Paul] to take a hit financially. He didn’t have to do that if he stayed in Oklahoma. He didn’t have to do that if he went to Golden State. Plus they had room to build around that. I think at the end of the day, they looked at is as far as roster-wise, well, ‘The Clippers look great, we love who they are, but financially they are going to be so strapped, it’s going to be so hard to work, I think we’re going to go the safer place,’ and that was Golden State.”
On whether the Clippers will be able to lock up Griffin and Paul beyond 2017:
“It would be interesting if Steve Ballmer wasn’t the owner, I don’t know how confident I would be. With Steve, I’m extremely confident that we can keep both. You know, listen, winning is the key. The better we play on the floor, the better chance we have of not only keeping those guys but actually adding to our basketball team. That’s always the key factor in this. Quality of life is important, being comfortable, players getting along with the staff and each other. All that goes into it. But I think we’re in a good place there. I know both of them have said they want to play here. They want to play for us forever.”
On the Griffin trade rumors:
“It’s funny, you don’t want to go out and send out a press release every time there’s a rumor about Blake. We’re hoping Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers. Period. So when teams call, we say we have no interest.
“No team is calling right now because teams know we don’t have any interest.”
On the Clippers’ hole at small forward:
“We have a good core. The problem team-building with our core is we have three max players. I don’t think people understand that. I think since I’ve taken the job, even before then, we need a three, we need a three, we need a three. Yeah, we all know that but we also only have the minimum to try to go out and get a three. I think it’s been actually miraculous what we’ve done with just having minimum contracts.”
On the pros and cons of minimum-salary contracts:
“One thing I’ve learned with teams like ours, if you have a good team, you can convince guys to take the minimum. The problem is you’re going to keep losing guys. Every year we do it. Every single season we sign guys to the minimum and then we lose them to higher contracts. Cole Aldrich is the example from this year.”