Doc Rivers

Pacific Notes: Castleberry, James, Evans, Warriors

Kawhi Leonard will have an ally on the Clippers’ coaching staff. His close friend Jeremy Castleberry will serve as an assistant under Doc Rivers, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic (Twitter link). Castleberry followed Leonard to Toronto after the Spurs traded him to the Raptors last summer. Castleberry played with the star forward in high school and at San Diego State. He was a player development coach in Toronto.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers will do some team bonding ahead of training camp. LeBron James is organizing a team minicamp in September, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link).
  • Jacob Evans, the Warriors’ first-round pick in 2018, is honing his skills as a point guard. The former Cincinnati guard talked about his development in a team website post. “It’s been a great transition, honestly,” he said. “Just learning the offense, trying to learn different reads out of it, some different sets, different looks and just trying to put myself in an aggressive attack mentality.” Evans appeared in 30 regular-season games and seven postseason games last season.
  • Kris Weems will be promoted to head coach of the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days reports. Weems has been an assistant with Santa Cruz the past two years under Aaron Miles, who will be promoted to Golden State’s staff, Johnson continues. Ryan Atkinson, Santa Cruz’s assistant GM since 2016, will be named the team’s GM. He previously served as president of basketball operations for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Leonard, Patterson, Robinson

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.

Pacific Notes: Davis, Lee, Russell, Rivers

Lakers power forward Anthony Davis says he’s never failed at anything and is confident he’ll win a championship during his career, as he told ESPN personality Sarah Spain in a story relayed by Dave McMenamin. “If I don’t win a championship that would be, I would feel that’s one of my biggest failures. But right now, I still have a lot to do in this world on and off the court,” Davis said. “So I don’t feel like I’ve failed in anything. I think I just continue to do it over until I succeed at it.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors swingman Damion Lee will likely have a greater role than a typical two-way player, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Beyond D’Angelo Russell, Klay Thompson‘s replacement as he mends from an ACL tear, the Warriors have an unimposing group of wings that include Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, Jacob Evans, Alfonzo McKinnie, Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. That puts Lee in position to fill a role as a floor spacer, Slater notes. Lee agreed to a two-way deal on Sunday.
  • Money was a major factor in Russell’s free agent decision, as his former Nets teammate and new Lakers forward Jared Dudley told Ethan Strauss of The Athletic. Russell received four years and approximately $117MM in a sign-and-trade that raised some eyebrows since he’ll have to move to shooting guard with the Warriors. “D’Angelo wanted to get the max. So I’m not surprised,” Dudley said. “He would’ve gone to, you know, Saudi Arabia, if he could have gotten the max there. I’m not surprised he took that.”
  • With the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Clippers coach Doc Rivers feels like he’s been given another chance to win a ring, as he told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Rivers’ club repeatedly came up short during the Chris PaulBlake Griffin era with the franchise. “I view this as another opportunity to win it,” he said. “And let’s be honest: You don’t have a lot of opportunities to actually win it. When you have that, you take advantage of it.”

Budenholzer Named Coach Of Year

The Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year at NBA’s annual awards show on Monday.

The former Hawks coach was hired last summer and guided Milwaukee to the league’s best record. The Bucks became an offensive juggernaut under his watch, scoring a league-best 118.1 points per game.

The Nuggets’ Michael Malone and Clippers’ Doc Rivers were the other finalists.

Budenholzer was also named Coach of the Year in 2015 with Atlanta. He was also Hoops Rumors’ consensus choice this year.

Clippers Fined For Tampering On Kawhi Leonard

The NBA announced today in a press release that it has fined the Clippers $50K for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. The penalty stems from comments made by head coach Doc Rivers about Raptors star Kawhi Leonard during a television appearance.

“(Leonard) is the most like (Michael) Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers said while participating in an ESPN panel earlier this week, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. “Like, there’s a lot of great players. LeBron (James) is phenomenal. KD (Kevin Durant) is phenomenal. Not like he is Jordan, or anything like that. But he’s the most like him. Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot – bumps you off. And then you add his 3-point shooting…”

The NBA generally doesn’t crack down as hard on potential tampering violations when players and coaches talk about rival players, preferring to limit its penalties to comments made or actions taken by executives and owners.

In this case though, the NBA may have been sensitive to the perception that the Clippers have been recruiting Leonard all year while he’s under contract with Toronto. The Raptors have reached out to the league multiple times this season when they’ve felt the Clippers have crossed tampering lines, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link).

Additionally, it’s not as if Rivers was simply a head coach discussing an opponent directly before or after playing him. The circumstances surrounding Rivers’ comments explain why the league was less willing to let them slide.

While it’s possible that Leonard’s NBA Finals run with the Raptors will help convince him to stay in Toronto when he reaches free agency in a month, the Clippers are still lurking in the shadows as his presumed top suitor, Amick wrote in a column before Game 1.

Marc Stein of The New York Times also provided some details this week on the lengths the Clippers are going to as they prepare their pitch for Leonard, reporting that the club explored the feasibility of buying a portion of the rights to Kawhi’s “Klaw” logo, which is still owned by Nike.

Harden, Giannis, George Named MVP Finalists

Defending champion James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George are the finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced in a press release.

The voting is expected to be close between Harden, who averaged 36.1 PPG and 7.5 APG during the regular season, and Antetokounmpo, who carried the Bucks to the best record in the league while averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.9 APG. George averaged 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player]

The league also released the finalists for its other awards. The winners will be revealed during a TNT broadcast on Monday, June 24. Here are the rest of the finalists:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Coach of the Year:

  • Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • Michael Malone (Nuggets)
  • Doc Rivers (Clippers)

Doc Rivers Signs Extension With Clippers

Doc Rivers’ long-term extension with the Clippers is now official, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Rivers, who first discussed the extension offer in March in response to rumors that he was considering leaving to coach the Lakers, told Greif today that he has signed the deal.

“I’m going nowhere,” Rivers said to reporters on March 19. “I can tell you that straight and up front. I’m going to be here until (owner) Steve (Ballmer) says ‘Get out.’”

Rivers didn’t say how many years the extension will cover, but he reiterated his desire to have a long-term future with the organization when its playoff run ended last night. After missing the playoffs last season, Rivers led the Clippers to 48 wins and a surprisingly tough six-game series against the defending champion Warriors.

“As I’ve said before, I’ve never had a group where you wanted to, in the morning, you raced to the car, you raced to practice just because you love being around them,” Rivers said after Friday’s game. “So for me, it was just a pleasure to coach them.”

Rivers has coached in L.A. for the past six seasons, compiling a 307-185 record with five playoff appearances. The Clippers will have enough cap space to offer at least one max contract this summer and could be among the best teams in the West next season if they can land an elite free agent.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, J. Green, Kings, LeBron

Within the last few years, the practice of an NBA head coach holding general manager duties has become less common — Mike Budenholzer, Stan Van Gundy, and Tom Thibodeau held those dual roles in Atlanta, Detroit, and Minnesota respectively, but ultimately parted ways with those organizations.

The only coach who had his front-office duties removed but still remains with the same team is Doc Rivers, who continues to coach the Clippers despite no longer serving as the club’s GM. Speaking to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (podcast link), Rivers admitted that the GM job was “too big” to do on his own, adding that he felt comfortable transitioning out of it as long as he still had some input in personnel decisions.

The fact that the Clippers promoted Lawrence Frank to run their front office, rather than making an outside hire, also allowed Rivers to feel comfortable making the adjustment.

“I’m the one who brought Lawrence in,” Rivers told Wojnarowski. “It would have been interesting if they said, ‘We’re taking your power away and we’re going to hire someone else.’ … There’s no way I would’ve been here without Lawrence staying.”

The change in title for Rivers has been a success, as his work on the sidelines for the 2018/19 Clippers represents perhaps the best coaching performance of his long career.

As we wait to see how far Rivers can take the Clippers in the postseason, let’s round up a few more Pacific notes…

  • Moving from the Grizzlies to the Clippers at last month’s trade deadline will pay off financially for forward JaMychal Green, who secured a $200K bonus when L.A. clinched a spot in the postseason on Tuesday, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. That incentive had been included in the two-year deal Green signed with Memphis back in 2017.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Marks previews the Kings‘ offseason, which will see the team facing decisions on a handful of key contributors. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield will become eligible for contract extensions, while Willie Cauley-Stein will reach restricted free agency.
  • After never missing more than 13 games in a season during his first 15 years in the NBA, LeBron James will miss at least 20 in 2018/19 due to injuries and rest. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explores whether this season is a blip on the radar for James, or whether the Lakers should plan on nagging injury concerns becoming the “new normal” for the 34-year-old going forward.

Pacific Notes: Bogut, Rivers, Crawford, Buss

Andrew Bogut returned to the Warriors this month after spending the last three years away from the team, rejoining the franchise he won a championship with in 2015. Bogut played a key role on that championship squad, forever stamping his mark in history as the club’s starting center.

The break-up between Bogut and the Warriors was rather simple, and both sides understood one another: Golden State cleared cap space as the summer of 2016 approached, gearing up for a run at Kevin Durant in free agency. Bogut was one of the players separated at the time.

“Look, I’m not stupid, man,” Bogut told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “The dude they made cap space for, I mean, look who he is. I’m not an idiot. You know, if it was someone else, a 12th man, I’d be pissed. But it’s one of the best players in basketball. So I totally get it.

“Was I disappointed? Of course. I wasn’t happy to get traded from a team that just went 73-9, went to the Finals, thought we had a chance to win it, but didn’t. But as far as hating the Warriors? No. I kept in touch with all the guys in this locker room — Andre, Draymond, Steph, Klay at times. Former guys like Harrison. Steve would text me.”

With no hard feelings or ill will toward the team, Bogut left Australia and returned to Oakland for what could be another championship run in the spring. He’s expected to provide frontcourt depth and a veteran presence for the club, with the 34-year-old having already played multiple seasons with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and other former teammates.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Players on the Clippers appreciate the long-term commitment given by head coach Doc Rivers this week, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. Rivers revealed that he and team owner Steve Ballmer verbally agreed on a contract extension last summer, one that will likely become official in the coming months. “It’s gonna be fun,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Obviously, I like playing for Doc. Good coach. He’s helped me get better in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The fact that he’s committed to us the same way we’re committed to him every night on the floor is cool.”
  • Suns veteran Jamal Crawford reflected on his season in Phoenix, calling this year “the most challenging year by far on so many levels” of his NBA career. “This is a younger team and I’m having to lead more,” Crawford said, as relayed by Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “I’m talking more than I ever have as well. Just different challenges.” Phoenix has the second-worst record in the league at 17-55, with Crawford stepping into more of a leadership role to help the team’s younger players.
  • Jeanie Buss has a golden opportunity to become more of an active owner with the Lakers following their disappointing season, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. The underwhelming acquisitions made by president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka, a lack of overall camaraderie between the players, and an awkward fit on the court have generated questions from fans and league observers, something Buss will have to take a closer look at during the offseason.

Doc Rivers Plans To Be With Clippers For A “Long Time”

Everyone is going to the Lakers — or at least that’s what the rumor mill might lead readers to believe. The latest subject of Lakers-related speculation was Doc Rivers, as there were whispers that he might be considering leaving the Clippers for the club’s intra-city rivals. Rivers dismissed that idea today.

“I have a job and the Lakers have a coach,” Rivers said, via Ben Golliver of the Washington Post (Twitter link). “I’m going nowhere. I can tell you that, straight, up front. I’m going to be here until [Clippers owner] Steve Ballmer says get out. I plan on being here a long time.”

Ballmer previously reworked Rivers’ contract, allowing him an opt-out in 2019. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), that extension has been again reworked into a longer deal.

“This summer, we decided to extend my contract,” Rivers explained. “…[Steve] did something I don’t think any owner would do. He gave me an out where I could opt out this summer.

“We wanted to test each other, we thought this was the right fit, but we wanted to make sure. As my dad said, ‘Trust everybody, but cut the cards.’ It was one of those things.

“Early this year, we both decided let’s end this thing, take this out, extend it and make it a longer deal. We’ve long decided on that but we chose not to say anything about it.

“…Steve was a man of his word. He gave a coach a chance to do what he wanted to do. This coach chose to stay right where he’s at and I’m very happy about it.”

The exact terms of the extension have not yet been made public, but Rivers said that his job “is not done,” adding that one of the reasons he came to the Clippers was to win a championship. Another goal was to make the franchise a free agent destination.

What’s clear is that Rivers plans to be part of the Clippers’ free agent pitches this summer as they compete with the Lakers and many other teams for top available talent.