Last summer, the Los Angeles Clippers stripped Doc Rivers of his team president/GM authority, and made him just the coach. There was some buzz around the league that the Clippers would have just let him go, but Rivers was owed $20 million over two years as coach/GM, and that was more than even Steve Ballmer was willing to eat. So Rivers’ stayed.
During the Clippers recent nine-game losing streak, rumors of job insecurity began to surface again. While the Clippers have bounced back (they have won three straight, against some of the NBA’s weaker teams) the injury to Blake Griffin means losses are likely to pile up again. Which will lead to new rounds of rumors.
Rivers has been around too long and through too much to care, as he told Arash Markazi of ESPN.
Los Angeles’ situation is different from the recent David Fizdale firing in Memphis. With the Grizzlies, management clearly had higher expectations of the team, seeing it as a solid playoff team that could overcome injuries (which may speak to their judgment). Plus there is the fact Fizdale and Marc Gasol had a strained relationship. Memphis GM Chris Wallace talked about turning the team’s season around as one main reason for the move.
The Clippers are smart enough to know that without Griffin, climbing out of the hole they are in and into the playoffs is unlikely. Rivers and Griffin get along well enough, as do Rivers and DeAndre Jordan, the team’s major free agent this summer. Plus, Rivers is a good coach. What is the reason to fire him mid-season? If they want to take a turn toward a more player-development based coach for the future, then make the change after the season. What is the advantage of doing so mid-season?