2:00pm: The deal is worth more than $50MM over the next five seasons, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
1:43pm: It’s an entirely new contract rather than an extension for Rivers, tweets Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. That indicates that the terms of Rivers’ original pact with the team, which wasn’t set to expire until the summer of 2016, no longer apply.
11:07am: The Clippers and Doc Rivers have reached a deal that will keep him under contract with the team through the 2018/19 season, the team announced. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported a couple of weeks ago that Rivers, who serves as coach and president of basketball operations, was set for extension talks with the team just as new owner Steve Ballmer formally took control of the franchise. The terms of the new deal aren’t immediately clear, but Rivers signed a three-year, $21MM contract when he joined the Clippers last summer.
“This is an important day for this organization,” Ballmer said in the team’s statement. “I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.”
The extension announcement comes just a day after Rivers and his front office staff pulled off a trade that sent Jared Dudley to the Bucks and provides some long-term salary flexibility for the Clippers. Rivers has had a busy and tumultuous past several months, and the saga involving former owner Donald Sterling was at the center of it.
Rivers helped guide the team through the playoffs this spring just after the scandal burst into the headlines, but it was weeks before he shushed rumors that he would leave if the Sterling mess weren’t quickly remedied. Doubts about Rivers’ future resurfaced when interim CEO Dick Parsons testified in Sterling’s probate trial that Rivers had told him he didn’t think he would continue with the team if Sterling remained the owner. Ballmer’s formal acquisition of the club earlier this month seemed to stabilize that situation, and Rivers spoke of his admiration for the new owner and enthusiasm for a long-term future with the club as part of the team’s statement today.
Ballmer several days ago stopped short of acknowledging extension talks, but he called Rivers “phenomenal” and made it clear that he wanted to keep Rivers around. The former Microsoft CEO paid $2 billion to buy the team, a record price, but with a net worth of $18 billion, according to Forbes.com, there’s little reason to suspect he was unwilling to pony up for Rivers, particularly given the speed with which they reached agreement.
Rivers, 52, has only more than a year of experience as an executive but has served as a head coach for at least part of each of the last 15 seasons, compiling a 644-498 record. He won the 2008 title with the Celtics, but that was one of just three postseasons in which the teams that Rivers coached won more playoff games than they lost.
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