AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Rumor: Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers’ work ethic not up to snuff

4 Comments

Doc Rivers was supposed to put the Clippers over the top.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were bona fide stars. DeAndre Jordan became a third star, and J.J. Redick thrived in a complementary role.

But Rivers’ Clippers never advanced further than Vinny Del Negro’s Clippers, topping out in the second round. Paul left for the Rockets, sparking numerous theories of what went wrong in L.A.:

Poor team chemistry. Western Conference being too good. Bad luck. Favoritism toward Austin Rivers.

Here’s another potential culprit.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Rivers remains charming, but team sources say his work ethic as a coach and executive lags far behind the championship rep he built on the shoulders of veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Insiders complained about a lack of accountability — about practices and shootarounds starting late

Rivers would be far from the first person to rest on his laurels after securing a loftier job. Is that the case here? This ignores the heavy burden Rivers carried in guiding the franchise through the Donald Sterling scandal. I can’t speak definitively to Rivers’ work ethic outside that crisis, but the fact that these leaks – true or not – are even getting out shows Rivers isn’t running the tightest ship.

Rivers’ multiple job titles only exacerbate the potential problem.

Coaching well takes immense work. Running a front office well takes immense work. I’m not sure any one person can successfully handle both tasks. Someone with a poor work ethic definitely can’t.

There is some circumstantial evidence to support these claims, especially for Rivers as executive. Even in a desirable market with a contending team, he routinely failed to find the quality role players who could put a good team over the top. Rivers frequently targeted players he previously coached or who played well against his teams in the playoffs, which always felt lazy.

The Clippers have added front-office help, shifting Lawrence Frank upstairs and hiring Jerry West. Maybe that will allow Rivers to focus more on coaching – a necessity this year.

Paul is a basketball genius and natural leader. He practically demands everyone get in line behind him.

With his departure, L.A. has built an intriguing hodgepodge around Griffin, adding Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers are now a team without an identity, but with a roster of versatile players that could go in any number of directions.

It’s on Rivers to experiment, assess and ultimately pick a style. Whatever happened in the past, the next step will require a lot of work.

Report: Otis Smith withdraws from Kings’ job search

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Kings need to replace Scott Perry – an important vacancy in what has been a clownish front office run by Vlade Divac and overseen by Vivek Ranadive.

Sacramento won’t be hiring Otis Smith, the former Magic general manager who met with the Kings.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

https://twitter.com/BA_Turner/status/891002351594622976

I wouldn’t beat up the Kings about this. They quite possibly chose not to hire Smith and allowed it be framed this way as a favor to him – a fairly common courtesy.

But that the Kings were even considering Smith, despite all his failings in Orlando, doesn’t bode well for their search.

Kevin Durant breaks Guinness world record in India

AP Photo/Altaf Qadri
3 Comments

NEW DELHI (AP) Kevin Durant is in India to help the NBA make inroads in a nation of 1.3 billion.

Durant took part in a camp in New Delhi, where the Golden State Warriors star helped set a Guinness world record Friday for the largest basketball lesson – 3,459 participants across multiple venues. The NBA Finals MVP met young players at the NBA Academy, with hundreds more joining by satellite from four other cities across the country.

Durant’s first trip to India is the latest move by the league to grow the game there, much as it is doing in China.

The academy opened in May to train some of the country’s top talents. Since 2008, the NBA has staged more than 1,500 events in 30 Indian cities.

Clippers sound like they’re pulling out of Kyrie Irving trade pursuit

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
3 Comments

The six teams – Spurs, Clippers, Suns, Timberwolves, Knicks, Heat – that have reportedly proposed trades to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving are falling by the wayside, one by one.

The Heat denied making an offer. And it sounds as if the Clippers’ offer is leading them out of the chase.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Clippers:

The Clippers have DeAndre Jordan, who has made All-NBA teams in the last three years. They also have Patrick Beverley whose dogged defense and quality spot-up 3-point shooting would fit well with LeBron James, and Beverley would be a lower-paid replacement for Irving at point guard. Their only player on a rookie-scale contract is Brice Johnson, who has disappointed. But they can still trade their 2022 and 2024 first-rounders, theoretically one to Cleveland and one to get a rookie-scale player already in the league.

Jordan would be a bad fit in a frontcourt that already includes Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and LeBron. But it seems a three-team trade could work.

Alas, if the Clippers have resigned themselves to not finding a three-team trade, that matters much more than whether one is plausible.

Kyrie Irving confidant, reportedly: "He’s saying he’s not about to let LeBron ‘SON’ him"

6 Comments

In the wake of Kyrie Irving‘s trade request – clearly a reaction to LeBron James – I’ve often thought about the above video.

A reporter asked Irving how LeBron has been like a father to him. A clearly flabbergasted Irving responds: “He’s been a great leader for us. I wouldn’t – I have one father. That’s my dad, Drederick Irving.”

LeBron never called himself Irving’s father. LeBron didn’t direct the reporter to ask Irving that question.

But LeBron’s presence, his leadership, how he presents his leadership all led the reporter down that road. Even if LeBron, like the rest of us, would’ve cringed at the question, the mere fact that he plays on the same team as Irving made it so Irving was put into that awkward position.

So, there may or may not be personal animosity between Irving and LeBron. There could still be a disconnect between the Cavaliers’ biggest stars.

Stephen A. Smith of The Undefeated:

“Kyrie isn’t saying he’s better than LeBron and should be seen that way,” a close confidant of Irving’s told me. “He’s saying he’s not about to let LeBron ‘SON’ him … treating him like he’s the child and LeBron’s the father or big brother he’s supposed to look up to.

“Kyrie knows he’s a franchise-caliber talent. He wants to be treated like it. And he’s tired of hearing about what LeBron needs, and he’s damn sure tired of hearing LeBron sound like he always needs more. As if the crew they have isn’t enough.”

Is this about LeBron repeatedly saying the Cavs needed another point guard last season? He was clearly talking about a backup for Irving, not replacing Irving. Perhaps, Irving or someone close to him took it differently?

Or maybe LeBron makes even more noise behind the scenes about needing more.

He doesn’t have enough – not to have a reasonable chance of beating these Warriors. Irving and Kevin Love lead a strong supporting cast, but Golden State is one of the greatest teams of all time. For LeBron to win another title, he needs more. I don’t blame LeBron for pushing for it.

I also understand that – and so much else of what LeBron naturally invites – wearing on Irving.