More Details On Doc Rivers’ Departure From Clippers

Although the Clippers‘ official press release on Doc Rivers‘ exit from the franchise suggested that the split was a mutual decision, people with knowledge of the situation told Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times that Rivers was “surprised to learn” the club wanted to move on.

[RELATED: Doc Rivers Out As Clippers’ Head Coach]

While the coaching change may have come as a surprise, it didn’t come out of nowhere, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who reports that a divide occurred as a result of an “accumulation of philosophical differences” over the years and especially in recent weeks.

According to Buha, Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer had multiple “candid” discussions following the team’s second-round playoff exit, exploring where things went wrong and comparing their visions of the organization’s future. They ultimately decided that they had differing visions of the path forward, resulting in what Buha refers to as a mutual decision to go their separate ways.

Rivers’ view, per Buha, was that the Clippers’ roster had some flaws and that he had tried the make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. The franchise, meanwhile, viewed the second-round collapse as “inexcusable” and considered Rivers culpable for many of the club’s shortcomings despite the unfavorable and unusual circumstances dictated by the coronavirus pandemic and the Orlando bubble.

Here’s more on the Clippers’ split with Rivers:

  • Rivers’ insistence on sticking with a struggling Montrezl Harrell over Ivica Zubac at key moments in the postseason and his reluctance to develop or empower young players during his Clippers tenure were among the factors the team considered when it made its change, according to Buha. Harrell’s energy and effort on the defensive end of the court was questioned both inside and outside the locker room, Buha adds.
  • There was a sense that the Clippers played with a “distinct lack of joy and on-court chemistry” this season and that Rivers had a hard time balancing his treatment of new stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with that of Clips veterans like Harrell, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley, Buha writes. The perception of preferential treatment for Leonard and George was an ongoing issue for multiple Clippers players all year.
  • The decision to part ways with Rivers was ultimately Ballmer’s, but the Clippers owner called a few key players, including Leonard and George – to get their opinions, sources told Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. None of the feedback Ballmer received changed his mind about the need for a change, and Rivers didn’t feel comfortable staying with the team without Ballmer’s full sport, per ESPN’s duo.
  • The Clippers didn’t have a specific replacement in mind when they decided to part with Rivers, and there’s an expectation that the search for a new coach could take several weeks, according to Buha, who says there’s no clear-cut top candidate yet.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to some executives around the NBA about the Rivers news and the most logical candidates to replace him on the Clippers’ bench.
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22 thoughts on “More Details On Doc Rivers’ Departure From Clippers

  1. mcmillankmm

    Guess we’ll keep hearing more about this as the story develops…will be interesting to see which free agents leave as well

  2. Sillivan

    Rivers is trying to use his reputation to hide his flaw
    He has been a bad playoffs coach for 10 years
    With so many stars his playoffs record is 91-89

  3. Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    The Clippers didn’t have a specific replacement in mind when they decided to part with Rivers, and there’s an expectation that the search for a new coach could take several weeks

    Well Brett Brown is available and apparently has a deep and warm relationship with Leonard.

    • jump shot

      When the team says they don’t have a replacement in mind, remember they also released a statement over a week ago that said Doc would be their coach next season…
      They probably have a coach in mind.

      • Yes that is probably true and from reading everything above including the clickables, it looks like Tyronn Lue.

        • x%sure

          lol “clickables”

          “As Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out though, this interview may just be more of a formality at this point and Lue should even think about whether or not actually going is worth it.”

          Interesting that Wiki uses an especially Asian-looking photo of him, though he says only black & Missouri. He didn’t look so Asian as a youth, but more & more in the eye & brow area… As an LA HC, he may get pressed to represent Asian-ness more than he was in Cleveland. Given the current NBA representation compared to where the game is growing, he could throw a bone!

  4. Clippers owner believed the hype that they were a great team. From every indication throughout the season they were a good team but with so many flaws.

    • johnstodder

      Doc was pretty honest about the problems with the roster and with the overall challenge of integrating so many new players into a team concept when you couldn’t get them all on the court at the same time due to injuries, etc. I think he’s taking the heat for roster issues that the FO should’ve solved — especially at the 5 and the 1.

      • That’s BS. The roster is exceptional. Lakers don’t have a true point guard. Lakers don’t have a dominant Center. Clippers and Lakers have a committee at Center who do fine. Lakers and Clippers have dogs at the point guard Avery Bradley Patrick Beverley and they do fine. The wings run the floor and the team and the offense. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George. Clippers roster is fantastic, the problem is Doc Rivers didn’t know how to use it. He wants old school basketball Rajon Rondo point guard type. The new NBA is all about wings.

      • x%sure

        The FO could have solved it, but they thought they did by employing the highly paid Rivers.

        But Rivers does not care about team bonding or bringing a disparate unit together as a team. He would consider that a player’s job as adults… and the FO’s job to assemble. He’s not wrong. But Ballmer paid for a title darn it and he wants his title.

        Lue seems like a better choice, though he was there too for 2020. At least he gets a hard start.

      • Lakers1

        Clippers integrated 5 new players.. lakers integrated 9.. next excuse why clippers didn’t choke.. lakers have had zero problems with the adjustment

  5. Sillivan

    Management always asked this question
    This is the championship team
    What is your confidence level to win the championship next year?

  6. Curtisrowe

    Clippers “Yo Kawhi, should we keep Doc as coach next year?”

    Kawhi “Nah”

    • x%sure

      I was thinking that Kawhi would say “whatever” but I’m not sure he says that. He can be pretty particular with language! Nah is it.

  7. goldenmisfit

    Kind of hard to have on court chemistry when your star player is insisting he takes every other day off.

  8. If Rivers blamed the roster, I’d have fired him too. There is no perfect roster. Rivers lobbied Ballmer to approve the PG13 deal. You don’t make that deal, or lobby for it, if you don’t think the resulting roster is championship caliber. The coaching challenges were obvious, but if they were sufficient to derail the team, then why didn’t he prioritize addressing them during the regular season? The Harrell decisions may have followed from this. The rigid way he set up the rotations during the regular season limited his ability to separately adjust the C minutes, without using both in a way he didn’t all year.

  9. BlackWater

    Doc as Phil Jackson noted, can’t motivate a team in the 4th quarter. Kevin Garnett got it done for him in Boston. Doc was a little to pre-occupied with Trump and Politics rather than winning after up 3/1.

  10. Lionel Muggeridge

    His rotations during the playoffs were questionable at best. Harrell is a poor rebounder and isn’t a shooter yet Rivers didn’t play the much more effective JaMychal Green more often. Reggie Jackson was also underplayed. Zubac had his moments yet wasn’t played enough at certain times as well.

  11. hoosierhysteria

    Preferential treatment for Paul George will destroy chemistry in the locker room for sure. It sounds like that happened. Doc should be held accountable. We’ve heard stories about Paul George getting into arguments with multiple players. Paul George is a choker. The Pacers don’t miss him

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