Jerry West is one of the most honest interviews in the NBA family. He’ll tell you what he’s thinking, and has reached the point in his career where
he doesn’t give a… isn’t concerned with what people think about what he says.
Last week West was on Rich Eisen and his wife’s weekly podcast “Not Just Sports with Suzy Shuster and Rich Eisen.” In that interview, West defended Doc Rivers from the rumors his job could be in jeopardy.
“He’s done of the best coaching I’ve ever seen this year. He and I communicate a lot…
“We’ve had so many injuries this year and when we came out we felt this team was going to surprise people and win a lot games and pretty soon you look around at it looks like a hospital ward and the job he has done to keep these guys playing has been fantastic…
“The only people who say Doc Rivers job is not safe is the media. This is where I think it is grossly unfair for coaches. Sometimes a coaches body of work is forgotten when things do not go well.” This guy might be a candidate for Coach of the Year.”
Well, a Coach of the Year has been fired (George Karl). That said, the buzz around the league that Rivers’ job could be in danger was more before the start of the season, after he had been ousted from his role as team president and GM. People with other teams wondered if Rivers’ heart would in it, and considering there was a new GM would he stick around.
However, West is right, Rivers has done a fantastic coaching job this season and is in the discussion for a spot on most voter’s Coach of the Year ballot (Brad Stevens is seen as the favorite). That said, if this week the Clippers trade Lou Williams and/or DeAndre Jordan, and move on from both of them by this summer, will Rivers want to stick around for the rebuilding project? He didn’t in Boston.
West also discussed the Blake Griffin trade, emphasizing that while he consults with the team he is not the guy with the hammer making the final decision, that is Lawrence Frank. This was Frank’s move, but West supported it.
“This was not a championship caliber team. Chris Paul, a tremendous player chose to leave here and when that happens it opens up everyone’s eyes…. What can we do to make ourselves sustainable….
“Anything you do in life you need flexibility and certainly this trade gives us flexibility.”
The buzz around the league is that West has Steve Ballmer’s ear — the owner trusts West. As he should (and not just because Ballmer is paying West $4 million a season or more). Being the guy the owner trusts means he can help Ballmer see the light on basketball moves such as trading Griffin, where Ballmer’s first instinct was not to give up and try to win with this roster (as we saw last summer, leading to the painful Danilo Gallinari contract). That has real value to the organization.