The Clippers hired Doc Rivers in 2013 as Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and head coach. In 2014, they promoted him to President of Basketball Operations and head coach. They demoted him last year.
“I’m still doing basically the same stuff,” Rivers said. “It’s interesting. I don’t think my role has changed since I’ve been there.
“When I first came, I was just the coach, but I was involved in every decision. Then I was the president, and I was involved in every decision. Now I’m the coach and whatever other title I have — I have another title, but I don’t even know what that is — but I’m still involved in every decision, so it really hasn’t changed much. My workload has changed some though. It’s less now, and that’s good. Before this last title change, I was hiring different people so I didn’t have to do everything, and that was the intent.”
Maybe Rivers was less involved before than we thought. Maybe he’s more involved more now than we thought. My theory: He’s just trying to downplay his demotion.
But the Clippers’ front-office power structure is mysterious.
Lawrence Frank holds the highest title as President of Basketball Operations. But the longtime coach is relatively new to front-office work.
Jerry West – who had great success running the Lakers and Grizzlies – is a consultant paid more than many top decision-makers. But he’s also 80 and might not be as involved in the day-to-day work as he was in his executive heyday.
Rivers remains head coach, his only title in the Clippers’ staff directory. He built enough cache to get front-office power before, and though the Clippers’ formally stripped him of that, maybe he still has a voice in roster construction.
And then there’s owner Steve Ballmer, whose enthusiasm tends to lead to involvement. He’s obviously doesn’t possess the basketball mind of Frank, West and Rivers, though.
How do they collaborate? Who holds most influence? Whose preference sticks when they disagree?
Rivers’ comments only add another wrinkle to a difficult-to-read situation.