On one July night, the Clippers went from a fringe playoff contender to title favorites. Now it’s up to coach Doc Rivers to make all the pieces fit, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Clippers won a three-team race to sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and they made it happen by trading for regular season MVP finalist Paul George. Rivers has experience in molding elite talent into a championship team from his days with the Celtics.
“It’s not the superstar power. I don’t care about that,” he said. “It’s about having a team that you really think can compete for a title. Having a team with superstars that you don’t believe can compete for a title is nothing. There’s a difference. Because there are teams we all have seen that, and been around and had, you may have that one superstar but you’re not winning it.”
Rivers has coached a few disappointing teams in L.A., with his “Lob City” groups repeatedly falling short in the playoffs. Even though the new version of the Clippers has little championship experience outside of Leonard, Rivers welcomes the favorite’s role.
“Teams are going to try to come after us,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing. I think we need that. It will teach us hopefully every night you have to be ready.”
There’s more Clippers news to pass along:
- Rivers tells Washburn that Leonard reminds him of a less-talkative version of Kevin Garnett and he welcomes the challenge of coaching him. “I don’t go into it knowing one way or another,” Rivers said. “My job is to get to know him first and how he plays, what makes him play better and how well he makes the team play better.”
- Montrezl Harrell is trying to develop into more of a perimeter threat, relays Jovan Buha of The Athletic. All the Clippers received a list of skills from the coaching staff to work on during the summer, and outside shooting was the focus for Harrell and fellow center Ivica Zubac. “I feel confident in my game and where I’m at,” Harrell said. “We worked extremely hard on being able to create my shot and knowing my shot.”
- Tom Ziller of SB Nation examines the most interesting revelations to come out of the new podcast series about former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.