Doc Rivers

Los Angeles Notes: Davis, Lakers, Clippers

The Lakers weren’t able to get very far in talks with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis and team president Magic Johnson hinted that the team won’t prioritize a blockbuster trade this offseason, as  Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com relays.

“That’s not going to change our plans this summer,” Johnson said of being unable to trade for Davis at the deadline. “It’s a great [free-agency] class, and we just want to get one of them.”

If the Lakers sign a maximum salary free agent this summer, they are unlikely to land Davis as a free agent during the following offseason, Windhorst explains. It would be difficult for the team to add maximum salary players in back-to-back offseasons with LeBron James‘ max deal also on the books.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The most realistic path to finding a Davis-to-the-Lakers trade may involve a third team, Windhorst contends in the same piece. The Pelicans appeared uninterested in the Lakers’ young prospects at the deadline. However, Los Angeles’ prospects have value around the league and the franchise could ship them to another team this summer in order to build a package the Pelicans would prefer.
  • The Clippers turned over a third of their roster at the trade deadline, but the team’s “tough guy” culture will remain unchanged, as Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times relays. Coach Doc Rivers said the team doesn’t “want any guy that’s not really ready for warfare because for us to make it [to the postseason], it’s going to be hard.”
  • Rivers, who was previously more involved in the Clippers’ front office, was surprised that the two Los Angeles teams agreed to a trade. Rivers said past negotiations with the Lakers have been one-sided, as Greif passes along in the same piece. “I didn’t know we were doing business again because we have tried and it just has been no conversations [with the Lakers],” Rivers said. “It was good they wanted conversations.”

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Ingles, Cousins, Shumpert, Divac

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo has been cleared to practice, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. The Lakers will not practice prior to their game against Houston on Saturday, so Rondo’s first practice will be delayed until at least Sunday. Rondo hasn’t played since Christmas Day due to a torn ligament in his right ring finger. Rondo, who will be an unrestricted free agent once again this summer, underwent surgery on December 28th.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers still rues the day the franchise let Joe Ingles go, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News reports. Ingles was the team’s last cut during 2014 training camp because the roster was already filled with guarantee contracts. Ingles has since emerged as a key piece for the Jazz. “I said it the day we released him that this was a bad decision and that we’re going to regret it,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately  I was working for someone who said we couldn’t eat a contract. We were begging to eat one contract and they said that will never happen and we had to let him go.”
  • The Warriors know there will be adjustment period once DeMarcus Cousins returns to action but they’re confident he’ll eventually fit in, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. Like many of the team’s stars, Cousins is used to having the ball in his hands frequently. They’ll all have to learn to share it even more with a dominant low-post scorer in the lineup. “Obviously, we want him to be himself,” Stephen Curry said. “We want him to be that player that he knows he can be. Bring that specific and unique skill set to kind of change our look a little bit. We have high-IQ guys all over the floor that will be able to figure it out. It might not be smooth at the beginning because it is going to be different, but he brings another element that we’ve never had before.”
  • Kings guard Iman Shumpert denies that he tried to enter Portland’s locker room in a confrontation manner on Monday, he tweets. Shumpert was apparently upset at Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic for setting a hard pick on him but said he merely wanted to talk things out. “I was respectful of their team’s space and privacy. I waited outside and asked to have a conversation. I was greeted by team security that talked to me and I left.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac confirms that he told minority owners to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Divac made his feelings known during a conference call with members of the team’s executive board. “I just told them about my plan,” he informed Anderson. When asked if he told those owners to stop meddling and leaking stories, he replied, “Yeah, that’s my plan.”

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.”