One year in, the results have been mixed.
The Clippers went a franchise-best 57-25, but they also lost in the second round, falling short of expectations. Off the court, Rivers guided the team through the Donald Sterling mess – even though the coach wasn’t certain he’d stay for the long haul. Safe to say, neither side has been completely thrilled with the arrangement – though Rivers has far, far, far, far, far more reason to gripe.
But with Steve Ballmer even more firmly in charge of the franchise, Rivers isn’t going anywhere.
First, he got a promotion. Now, he has a new contract.
The Los Angeles Clippers today announced that President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers has agreed to a contract that will keep him with the team through the end of the 2019 season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“This is an important day for this organization,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said. “I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.”
Rivers took over as head coach of the Clippers in June 2013 and led Los Angeles to the best record in franchise history (57-25, .695) and a second straight Pacific Division title. He became President of Basketball Operations on June 16, 2014.
“Steve has shown a clear and determined desire to make the Clippers one of the most elite, first-class and championship organizations in all of professional sports,” Rivers said. “We know we have work to do to get there, but I am motivated by the challenge and thankful for the opportunity to stand together with Steve as we continue to move toward our goal of winning an NBA title.”
Rivers’ fingerprints are all over the Clippers. He’s teaching Chris Paul and Blake Griffin how to win at the highest levels. He’s turning DeAndre Jordan into a borderline star. And he’s even occasionally making bad front-office decisions. Even if the on-court results weren’t immediate, Rivers is clearly laying a positive framework.
All of this is a work in progress, and Rivers deserves a chance to see it through. His basketball acumen drew the Clippers in the first place, and Rivers’ knowledge of the game hasn’t slipped as the team has been sold. Ballmer sees it, too, and that’s why he prioritized keeping Rivers.
So far, because of Sterling, Rivers hasn’t gotten what he’s bargained for in Los Angeles. But now, Rivers will have a real chance to build the championship team he set out on creating.