Doc Rivers will be in the spotlight with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both joining the Clippers, but his training for dealing with superstars dates back to his early days as a coach in Orlando, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Rivers had just completed his first year as a head coach in the summer of 2000 when the Magic signed both Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady, forming what was expected to be a super-team of that era.
“(Clippers president of basketball operations) Lawrence Frank did more research than any human being is possible to do,” Rivers said. “And I thought (former Magic general manager) John Gabriel did the same thing. That’s why we were successful in Orlando getting Tracy and Grant, and that’s why we’ve been successful today.”
In both cases, the free agent jackpot was preceded by a decision to trade a franchise player — Anfernee Hardaway in Orlando and Blake Griffin in L.A. Rivers insisted that both franchises remain competitive rather than tanking after the deals, believing that was the best way to lure free agents. George confirmed the value of that decision.
“You could just see their connection on the court,” he said of last year’s team. “Everybody pulling for one another, everybody elevated their games to be part of that camaraderie. That’s what made it such an attractive spot.”
There’s more Clippers news to pass along:
- In the same story, Rivers offers an inside look at the negotiations with Leonard, saying the focus never strayed from how the team could compete for a title. “All the other stuff that people think matters in the recruitment, I don’t think Kawhi wanted to talk about that, and so I didn’t,” Rivers said. “I talked about winning, and basketball. Kawhi is a serious man and I think you felt that with him. I think he felt the seriousness of me and how serious I am about winning and how serious he is about winning and he felt good about that match.”
- In his buyout with the Thunder, Patrick Patterson gave back $3.5MM of the $5.7MM he was owed, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. He will earn another $2.3MM with the Clippers this season.
- Jerome Robinson didn’t see much playing time as a rookie, but he’s counting on a greater role in his second season, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
- Mathias Lessort, whose rights were acquired from the Sixers in the Jimmy Butler trade, will play for German Bundesliga champion FC Bayern Munich this season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A 2017 draftee, Lessort spent last season in Spain.