Doc Rivers Out As Clippers’ Head Coach

Doc Rivers won’t return next season as head coach of the Clippers, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The team confirmed the move in a press release, announcing that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Rivers reached a mutual decision that the head coach will step down.

Rivers has issued a statement on his Twitter account confirming his exit and thanking “Clipper Nation” for its support.

“When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization,” Rivers wrote. “While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through. Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support.”

Rivers, who previously coached in Orlando and Boston, had been the Clippers’ head coach since the 2013/14 season, compiling a 356-208 (.631) record during his seven seasons in Los Angeles. He oversaw multiple iterations of the roster during that stint, starting with a group led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, which ultimately transformed into this year’s team led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

During his tenure, Rivers took on responsibilities beyond those of a typical head coach, helping to guide the organization through the transition in ownership from Donald Sterling to Ballmer, then running the basketball operations department until Lawrence Frank was promoted to president of basketball ops in 2017.

The Clippers made the postseason in six of the seven years with Rivers at the helm, falling short of the playoffs just once in 2018. However, the team never advanced past the second round, having been eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals in 2014, 2015, and 2020. This year’s loss was especially devastating, as the Clips were considered a frontrunner for the title and held a 3-1 lead over Denver before losing their final three games of the season.

Despite that end-of-season collapse, Rivers’ exit comes as a surprise, since he’s well-liked and respected by players around the league, and possesses a championship résumé. He also had two years left on his contract, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link), and his presence in Los Angeles was believed to be a major factor in Leonard’s desire to sign with the Clippers last summer.

Rivers was the NBA’s fifth longest-tenured coach, behind only Gregg Popovich (Spurs), Erik Spoelstra (Heat), Rick Carlisle (Mavericks), and Terry Stotts (Trail Blazers).

It’s unclear what’s next for Rivers, but if he’s interested in pursuing another head coaching job immediately, the teams still in the process of hiring new head coaches should sit up and take notice. The Sixers, Rockets, Pelicans, Pacers, and Thunder make up that group.

As for the Clippers, it will be fascinating to see who replaces Rivers on the team’s bench for the 2020/21 campaign. Assistants Tyronn Lue and Sam Cassell have been linked to other coaching vacancies and may be candidates for promotions, but the franchise figures to be deliberate in its search — with Leonard and George eligible for free agency in 2021, it will be imperative for the Clips to find a head coach capable of connecting with those stars and leading the roster to title contention next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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65 thoughts on “Doc Rivers Out As Clippers’ Head Coach

    • nva84

      He probably will take the year off. But if he doesn’t no team with title aspirations will want to hire him. So doubt he goes to philly or houston

      • I give no fox

        Philly is currently considering Mike D’Antoni, at least doc has a title

      • He gets every summer off. Why would he take a year off? His kids aren’t Young and his wife is used to the Grind. Guys like this are up for the next challenge. Let’s go let’s do it ready to move on.

        You dwell too long in a firing and it sits with you for a year it’ll affect your next interview perhaps. You want to bounce back quick on something like this and erase the bad mark.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Makes the most sense. Hopefully he does a better job than D’Antoni did.

    • DeathbyDeathwest

      If Doc goes to Philly, I think it’s more likely they try to run back Embiid-Simmons. Maybe they’d try to deal Harris or Horford..

      If Philly goes with D’Antoni, I think Embiid is going to be aggressively shopped. Along with Harris and Horford.

    • Rewane

      Yes, it would be great, since Sixers wouldn’t be good enough to be up 3-1.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Man, could you imagine what Doc would say in the comments here about you when YOU get fired?

      Cause I don’t think he’d say anything. Not only because he’s a nice guy, but also because you’re a nobody.

        • Jason Lancaster

          LOL. I started coming around again once all the “COVID is bs” nonsense died down.

  1. Jason Lancaster

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Doc, so I can see letting him go on account of the team’s poor performance this year (and their lack of team chemistry).

    However, who are the Clippers going to get to replace him? Seems to me he’s as good as anyone they’re going to be able to hire right now.

    I suppose they could take a chance on a younger coach with a short resume (like Ty Lue, who seems like he’s very good, but who knows), but that doesn’t seem like the kind of move you make when you’re a contender.

    • Bro we’ve ALL been crying for this for at least a year. Some of us since the Clippers collapsed every year in the Chris Paul and Blake Griffin era.

  2. x%sure

    Lue LAC. Sixers will add Dantoni to their collection and rue the loss of Lue.

  3. GoLandCrabs

    Kawhi and Uncle Dennis run that team now. Congratulations Steve, look what you got yourself into.

  4. The Howler

    So many coaching changes makes it seem like Steve Nash is one of longest tenured coaches in the NBA.

  5. Sillivan

    It’s disaster if 76ers hire D’Antoni or Rivers
    With 76ers roster,Ceiling of both coaches is pass the first round

    • Jason Lancaster

      “Disaster?”

      Would either of those guys be disastrous compared to Brett Brown?

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      D’Antoni and the Rockets reached the WCF twice in the last 6 seasons and got to the second round in 5 of the last 6 years.

  6. batter up

    Looks like the Nets jumped the gun right now. They could’ve go after Doc instead of having a rookie coach.

    • jump shot

      Classy of Ballmer to wait a few weeks. Doc deserves that. No need to do it immediately after the 4th qtr buzzer like Philly did Brown.

    • Why would the Nets hire Doc Rivers ? Have you been paying attention the last 20 years? He’s been given all star teams in Boston and Los Angeles and has one ring to show for it.

      If you want to improve the culture of your team and make the playoffs and have a well-run organization then you hire Doc Rivers. If you want to win it all you look elsewhere. He seems to be a good players coach and players like him and will play hard for him. But this man does not get it done if you know what I mean.

  7. THAT’S RIGHT. GREAT MOVE !!

    Wow this is big news. I did not think the Clippers had the courage to do this but many of us have been calling for it. Jerry West baby not afraid to make a big move.

  8. Ron_Karate

    Doc has already coached the Rockets.

    I hope they cleared this with Kawhi. If they didn’t, he might not give his best effort.

    • Right before the decision was made public Jerry West looked over at Kawhi. Kawhi said nothing but gave his nod and the papers were handed to Doc. Done. Everyone in agreement.

  9. DynamiteAdams

    I think he quit. If they were going to fire him they would have done it immediately after the Nuggets series. They want it to look mutual so thats why I think Woj’s report seems cryptic.

    This sets up Lue to replace him nicely.

      • Jason Lancaster

        Oh I’m sure he can quit. He just has to follow the terms of the contract (whatever they may be) if he decides to do so…typically that’s very expensive.

        But there’s no such thing as an unbreakable contract at this level. NBA coaches have lawyers too.

  10. phillyballers

    This would probably be a better landing spot for D’Antoni. And Doc in Philly.

    • I don’t think Jerry West brings in a gimmick. Who he does bring in I’m not sure but it won’t be D’Antoni.

  11. goldenmisfit

    The clippers just fired their head coach a guy who has a career 631 winning percentage as the head coach of a team that has been a failure. It is decisions like this why the clippers will always be the red headed step child of the Lakers.

    • Doc’s contributions to the Los Angeles Clippers are well-documented. Number one he brought consistency staying on the job for many years. One of the worst things about the Clippers was letting their stars go once the rookie contract was over.

      But now that the Clippers have made a commitment to winning it all, just making the playoffs is not good enough. Rivers was given a chance and he couldn’t get it done and scrutinizing and examination of his game plan yielded in a non passing grade. Here’s the door sir.

      But I’m sure he’s going to bounce right back. No shine on Doc Rivers he can be proud of what he’s accomplished with the Clippers. Seriously. Sure he didn’t win it all but how many guys do? It’s fine. But the Clippers are looking for more and they’re hungry. Who they hire I don’t know but it should be interesting.

  12. Reflect

    Rivers is one of the most overrated coaches in the NBA. He lucked into 3 hall of famers in their prime at the same time, still couldn’t repeat and has ridden that hype for over a decade.

  13. tiredolddude

    New Orleans and working with that young group is a natural for Doc. Little pressure to hit great heights right away. Makes sense

    • mlbnyyfan

      If I knew his team was going to Choke the Knicks would of gotten him.

      • tiredolddude

        You know, Ballmer spent a fortune and they brought in Kawhi and all, but this team never enamored me. Yeah, I know that’s sacrilege. I don’t mean any disrespect as they’re a good team, but having seen them numerous times this year just never bought the hype. Many good teams in the west.

  14. Chief Two Hands

    Rivers is a good head coach. The Clippers roster was just bad. Acquiring George was a big mistake.

    • Please tell me what was wrong with the Clippers roster. Seriously. About the only thing you could say was they lacked a true point guard.

      • El Don

        & much, much more important than a true PG, which they are a dozen a dime, doesn’t make a difference in other words… they lacked a true center, that is why they lost with DEN, Jokic was the best player in both teams & they had no one to stop him!
        They would have lost with LAL or MIA as well, probably they would have won with HOU or BOS, as they did with DAL!
        It’s all about having a winning center!

  15. KnickerbockerAl

    IMO they are still better than Lakers. Wow didn’t see this coming. I guess he’s been here long enough. Truth is he’s got to take some responsibility for Nuggets. I can’t fault owner. They are going to new stadium. Ballmer is serious about LA. Has every right to do it. Team will need restructure. Can’t see who they get. I mean out of all available right now. Why would you want any of them. Maybe Pops comes here to retire. Never saw Nash coming. Can’t see them going for rookie coach. It’s best for Doc to take a yr off. He don’t need this. He can be analyst for a yr or two. If I’m him, I take some time off. Wow this was shocking.

    • By Pop do you mean Greg Popovich? Did you forget Kawhi Leonard is on the Clippers? Short memory?

      Like everyone, I have no idea who they’re going to hire. This should be interesting.

    • GoLandCrabs

      They are better than the Lakers at home while the Lakers play in the finals? LOL stop. Most of the clippers > lakers crowd has abandoned ship meanwhile you double down. Hate to break it to you but all the depth pieces that supposedly made the clips better were terrible in the playoffs.

    • imindless
      imindless

      So they choke not 2 but 3 games and lakers beat the same team in 5 lol okay…..lakers would have beat clippers in 5/6 too regular season lakers could have up 3-1 in the series instead of 2-2

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