Doc Rivers

Pacific Notes: Green, Ayton, Gilgeous-Alexander

A hot topic during the NBA season so far has been the inconsistent play and effort from the Warriors. Whether it is a result of injuries or struggles from key star players, the Warriors just haven’t played to the best of their abilities during the first half of the regular season. As Monte Poole writes for NBC Sports California, Draymond Green is ultimately the key to the Warriors turning things around and hitting their stride.

Poole writes that Green can look like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate one night, only to produce a pedestrian effort the next game. Green’s offensive struggles are no secret, especially with his inability to hit long-range shots cramping the Warriors’ floor spacing. But Poole believes that Green being fully engaged defensively on a more consistent basis will provide the team with that extra energy to compete at their highest level.

With DeMarcus Cousins set to return in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how he fits on the floor and what he provides for a Warriors team clearly searching for their competitive edge.

There’s more from the Pacific division:

  • At a recent practice, Suns rookie big man Deandre Ayton discussed the fact that he feels the pressure of expectations, mainly as a result of his competitiveness and desire to win.
  • After getting off to a very strong start, Clippers‘ rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has struggled in recent weeks as he has hit the “rookie wall.” However, as Andrew Greif points out for The Los Angeles Times, Doc Rivers continues to be impressed with the young guard’s work ethic and understands that he will need more time to get over the hump this season.
  • As the Suns have played better in recent weeks, head coach Igor Kokoskov has enjoyed having the ability to tailor and adjust his rotation on a game-to-game basis depending on the energy from his players and that night’s matchup. Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic details how the team’s young players and bench depth have improved in recent weeks.

Tyronn Lue Has Informal Role With Clippers

The Clippers haven’t officially hired Tyronn Lue to their staff, but the former Cavaliers head coach has taken on an informal role with Doc Rivers‘ club, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

According to Greif, Lue began the role on Sunday and will spend more time around the Clippers going forward this season. He has been asked to share his thoughts on the team’s play with Rivers over the coming weeks and months.

“He just watches and if he sees something, he’s just part of the group,” Rivers said of Lue, who got his start in coaching as an assistant on Rivers’ staffs in Boston (2011-13) and then Los Angeles (2013-14). Lue also briefly played for Rivers in Orlando back in 2003.

When Lue was fired by the Cavaliers in October, Rivers spoke out against the move, saying that it made “no sense” and was an “ugly part of our game.”

It’s not clear yet whether Lue will be looking to get right back into the NBA’s head coaching ranks or whether his post-playing career will take a new direction. For now, it looks like he might wait until after the season to formally pursue a new job, helping out Rivers in L.A. in the meantime.

Clippers Rumors: 2019 Free Agency, Rivers, Frank

The Clippers could have enough cap room in 2019 for two maximum-salary free agents, and one rival executive believes that the franchise – often viewed as an afterthought in Los Angeles in the shadow of the Lakers – could be the “most attractive free agent situation of all of them” next summer, according to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.

“None of the available free agents want to be LeBron [James]‘s caddy,” the executive told Beck, explaining why a star player may choose the Clippers over the Lakers and other teams. “And they can become the greatest player in the history of a franchise in an unbelievable market with the wealthiest owner in the league. Why would that not thrill you?”

The “wealthiest owner in the league,” Steve Ballmer, spoke extensively to Beck for an in-depth feature that explores the Clippers’ plans for the 2019 offseason and beyond, while also looking back on a few major decisions that have shaped the organization’s direction during Ballmer’s tenure.

Beck’s piece is excellent and is worth reading in full, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • One top agent tells Beck that he’s eager to steer clients toward the Clippers, pointing out that Ballmer won’t mind going into luxury-tax territory and “wants to win.” The Clips have “definitely changed” their image in recent years, according to that agent.
  • In a speech to Beck, Ballmer previewed what a pitch to an elite free agent might look like: “You wanna have a legacy? You wanna really say you were involved in doing something super special? You come here. You be in L.A., the greatest market in the world, and you show people: ‘I’m the guy! I went to a franchise who’d never been there! I’m the guy! I made it happen! I get a legacy!'”
  • Ballmer regrets waiting as long as he did to restructure the front office, since he now believes the president of basketball operations job is “all-consuming” and requires someone who can focus on it full-time — head coach Doc Rivers held that position until Lawrence Frank was promoted to fill it last year, allowing Rivers to focus on coaching. “There were too many [basketball operations matters] where I really wanted to talk to Lawrence, not Doc,” Ballmer said. “Doc was, as I would have said at Microsoft, an unnecessary middle layer.”
  • Having everyone in the proper management roles should help the team maximize its assets and avoid making short-sighted moves, as Ballmer explains: “We want a team where we get maximum value out of the guys that we have, that we’re not dummies. I think if you look over the last five, six years, there’s some moves with hindsight I say, ‘God, now that I’ve been around longer, I wouldn’t make a move to give up a first-round pick to get Jeff Green.’ Because we weren’t as close to being a championship contender as we thought we were. So we gave up a pick we shouldn’t have.”
  • Ballmer also admitted that the Lob-City-era Clippers often came off as “whiny” by complaining too often about calls on the court. “I think that was known for the Clippers,” he said. “I don’t want to be that way. That’s not who we want to be.” Ballmer added that, in order to help sell the team to top free agents, he wants to make it clear to the rest of the NBA what the present-day Clippers stand for: “I want us to be playing defense. I want us to be resilient.”

Wizards Notes: Slow Start, Trades, Rivers, Porter

Austin Rivers, one of the newest Wizards, had some pointed words for his teammates after the team dropped to 1-5 this season, E. Jay Zarett of the Sporting News relays. Washington is giving up a league-worst 125 PPG.  “Nobody’s going to feel bad for us,” the combo guard said. “People are laughing at us. … I don’t know how we expect to get wins when they are just walking into the paint, (we are) giving up threes. It comes from effort and talking. You have got to have personal pride. You’ve got to get mad when someone scores on you. We are not the Warriors.”

We’ve got more on the Wizards:

  • Breaking up the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal and finding a taker for Otto Porter Jr.’s big contract is the only way for Washington to begin a meaningful rebuild, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype opines. Wall and Beal remain the team’s best assets despite Wall’s extension kicking in next season and Beal having two more years left on his contract, Urbina continues.  If the front office doesn’t do something bold, it seems destined to deal with constant dysfunctional mediocrity, Urbina adds.
  • Rivers told father Doc Rivers that he was unsure whether he’d re-sign with the Clippers as a free agent in 2019 before he was dealt to Washington, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reports. Austin Rivers wanted to establish that he could be an effective NBA player without playing for his father. Rivers, who is making $12.65MM this season, was swapped for center Marcin Gortat. “I felt like my head was hitting a ceiling because I was ultimately playing for my dad and no matter what I did it always came back to that. … I could score 60, 50, 40, whatever and people would be like, ‘Oh, his dad’s the coach,’” Rivers said.
  • Porter has not been carrying his share of the load offensively, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Porter is averaging just 9.8 PPG while shooting 41.1% from the field and 21.7% from 3-point range.
  • Coach Scott Brooks continues to have the full support of the organization despite the club’s poor start. Get all the details here.

Pacific Rumors: Ingram, Crawford, Shumpert, Rivers

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram felt he got off easy after receiving a four-game suspension for instigating a fight between his team and the Rockets on Saturday night, he told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin and other media members. Ingram received the longest suspension doled out by the league but he thought it could be worse. Teammate Rajon Rondo and Houston’s Chris Paul also received suspensions. “Well, it was better than we expected,” Ingram said. “I’m happy it’s only four but I know I got to control my emotions a little better.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Veteran guard Jamal Crawford took only two shots in his Suns debut Saturday and that was by design, he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Crawford joined Phoenix on a one-year contract just before the season opener. “Missing training camp, missing preseason, you don’t want to come in and be ultra-aggressive,” he said. “You have a new team, you have a new coach and learning a new system so you don’t want to come and try to step on anybody’s toes. I’m sure the scoring part will come, but for me, I’m just trying to make the right play.”
  • Iman Shumpert feels a sense of satisfaction being back in uniform this season, according to Noel Harris of the Sacramento Bee. He was dealt to Sacramento by the Cavaliers at February’s trade deadline but didn’t suit up due to plantar fasciitis. He was bothered by a calf injury in training camp but was able to return for a preseason game. He then scored a team-best 26 points in the Kings’ first regular-season win over the Thunder. “Being able to play that preseason game, that was a different type of happiness for me after sitting out a year,” Shumpert said. “I joke around about it a lot, but I’m serious as a heart attack when I say it: I don’t wish that on anybody, not being able to play.” Shumpert needs to continue to produce, as he’ll enter the free agent market after making $11MM this season.
  • Doc Rivers doesn’t think he’d still be coaching the Clippers if the former star trio of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had remained with the team, as he told Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times“I needed the change. I wouldn’t have done this with the same group. I wouldn’t be here probably,” Rivers said. “We just needed change. We needed it and we just had to do it. We had to come to the conclusion we weren’t going to win.”

L.A. Notes: Leonard, James, Rondo, Rivers

The Spurs continue to seek a high price from the Lakers in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, salary cap expert Larry Coon said in an appearance today on Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link). Sources tell Coon that San Antonio is asking for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first-rounders and the right to swap two other draft choices. “They’re just saying give us everything,” Coon said.

Coon also outlined the Lakers’ remaining cap situation, noting that the signing of Lance Stephenson with the mid-level exception will probably be the final move in free agency after all other cap space is used up.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • LeBron James‘ decision to join the Lakers may give Leonard more incentive to become a Clipper, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports suggested in an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s radio show (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers are turning their attention to next summer for their next big free agent move, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The organization’s emphasis on one-year deals helps explain the odd collection of moves that have come down since James committed to L.A. Sunday night. The Lakers re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, then reached agreements with Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, all on one-year contracts. The team expects to have about $76MM in guaranteed money next summer, possibly less if Luol Deng is waived and stretched, leaving enough to offer another max deal.
  • Rondo, whom Deveney states has wanted to join the Lakers since 2015, could take the starting point guard job away from Lonzo Ball, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. A source tells Amick that the L.A. front office has promised Rondo the chance to compete for a starting spot.
  • During an impromptu interview with TMZ, Doc Rivers explained the decision to trade his son, Austin Rivers, to the Wizards. The Clippers coach called it “the right thing for all of us” and predicts that Austin will excel in Washington.

Clippers, Doc Rivers Agree To Contract Extension

The Clippers and Doc Rivers have reached an agreement on a deal that will extend the head coach’s contract, the team announced today in a press release. Terms of the agreement aren’t yet known, but Rivers’ contract with the Clips had originally been set to expire at the end of the 2018/19 season.

“Doc is one of the top coaches in the NBA, coming off one of his finest seasons since joining the Clippers,” owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “We trust Doc to lead a competitive, tough, hard-working team while upholding a culture of accountability expected to resonate throughout the organization.”

Rivers, who joined the Clippers in 2013, led the team to four consecutive seasons of 51 or more wins before the roster underwent major changes in the summer of 2017. The Clips traded Chris Paul to Houston last summer, then sent Blake Griffin to Detroit prior to this season’s trade deadline, leading to speculation that Rivers may follow his star players out of Los Angeles. However, today’s announcement confirms that won’t be the case.

Despite losing his longtime stars, Rivers still managed to lead the Clippers to a 42-40 record in 2017/18, keeping the team within striking distance of a playoff spot until the final week of the regular season. He now has a 259-151 (.632) record in five years with the franchise, though the club has failed to make a deep playoff run during that stretch, having been eliminated twice in the first round and twice in the second.

Armed with two lottery picks in this month’s draft and more cap flexibility than they would have had with Griffin’s maximum-salary contract on their books, the Clippers will be looking to retool their roster this offseason and return to the playoffs next spring.

“I am proud of the success we have had here over the last five seasons, but there is more work to be done,” Rivers said in a statement today. “We are coming off a year where our team battled through many challenges and much adversity, proving deep talent and even greater potential. I am looking forward to getting back to work on the court to develop our players and compete with the NBA’s elite.”

Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times first reported earlier this month than an extension agreement between the Clippers and Rivers was in the works.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Doc Rivers, Clippers Agree To Extension?

All indications are that Clippers coach Doc Rivers has reached an agreement with owner Steve Ballmer on a multi-year extension, reports Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. Nothing has been made official, but Plaschke speculates the news means Rivers is willing to be part of a rebuilding effort in L.A.

There had been rumors that Rivers, who has one year remaining on his current contract, may not want to stay with the organization after it traded Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the past year and faces the possible loss of DeAndre Jordan in free agency.

Rivers and the Clippers declined to comment on the report, but Plaschke notes that both sides have been complimentary in their recent statements.

“I love where the organization is at right now,” Rivers said in an interview this week, while Ballmer stated that Rivers did an “amazing” job this season with an injury-depleted roster.

Plaschke notes that Rivers is a valuable asset for the franchise as it tries to accelerate its rebuilding process by attracting a top-level free agent like Paul George or LeBron James, who are both rumored to have a desire to play in Los Angeles. The Clippers, who will likely have two lottery picks, have also been mentioned as a possible destination if the Spurs decide to trade Kawhi Leonard.

“This season gave me life, it really did,” Rivers said. “This year’s group was great to coach, an extraordinary group, and it tells you that you can bring in the right guys and build the right culture and we can get this done.”

Los Angeles Notes: Bryant, Lopez, Rivers, Woodson

Kobe Bryant added an Oscar to his impressive list of accomplishments this year and the retired Lakers legend is enjoying his post-basketball career. However, should any free agents want to speak with him about possibly joining the Lakers, the Black Mamba is available for advice and input, Sam Amick of USA Today Sports writes.

Bryant spoke highly of Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who served as Bryant’s agent during his two-decade career. He believes Pelinka and the front office can put forth a formidable team comprised of young talent and season veterans. However, the former NBA Most Valuable Player and five-time NBA champion preached patience.

“You look at the Lakers and the youth and the players that they have, and you’ve just got to be patient and develop these guys,” Bryant said. “I always say it’s about having a patient impatience, where you want to win championships now but you know that’s not going to happen now but you have the determination and the resolve to work and push and learn as if you’re going to be that immediately.” 

Check out more notes involving L.A.s basketball teas:

  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype looks at four possible destinations for veteran center Brook Lopez as he enters free agency. The Trail Blazers and Bucks are listed along with possible reunions with the Lakers and Nets, as Urbina looks at how Lopez fits on each team.
  • After missing the playoffs, the Clippers enter the offseason with several decisions to make with their roster entering the 2018/19 season, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. The biggest of them all may be whether or not to retain head coach Doc Rivers.
  • As we noted earlier, Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson is scheduled to meet with the Knicks next week about the organization’s head coach position.

Coaching Rumors: Rivers, Joerger, Clifford, Magic

With the 2017/18 season now in the books for the Clippers, Doc Rivers has one year remaining on his contract with the team and sounded uncertain before Wednesday’s finale about what exactly his future holds.

“I love what I do, but that doesn’t mean that you keep doing it every year, do you know what I mean?” Rivers said, per Elliott Teaford of The Daily Breeze. “I can’t even answer the question. I love where we’re at as a franchise. I will say that. I would honestly say that a year ago I don’t know if I would have had that same feeling. So, we’ll see.”

Despite Rivers’ uncertainty, he’s expected to return to his job next season, league sources tell David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). We’re not even 12 hours into the 2018 offseason, so it’s possible the outlook for Rivers and the Clippers could change once the two sides formally meet, but based on Aldridge’s report, it doesn’t sound like the franchise is eager to move on from the veteran head coach.

According to Aldridge, Dave Joerger is also expected to return to his position as the Kings‘ head coach next season.

Here are a few more coaching notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Hornets head coach Steve Clifford will meet with new president and GM Mitch Kupchak on Friday in Charlotte, tweets Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. According to Mannix, Clifford figures to push for a decision on his status, since he’s highly regarded in coaching circles and could draw interest for other openings around the NBA if Charlotte lets him go.
  • Mannix also weighs in on the newly-opened Magic job, tweeting that Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov could be a dark horse candidate to replace Frank Vogel. Current Orlando GM John Hammond helped bring Kokoskov to the NBA, Mannix notes.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders relays what he has heard on head coaching situations around the NBA. Besides examining the five teams without a permanent coach in place, Kyler also takes a look at the Hawks, Hornets, Pistons, and Clippers.