Entering the 2015-16 season, Clippers coach (and then-president) Doc Rivers declared L.A.’s Chris Paul–Blake Griffin–DeAndre Jordan core was on the verge of becoming stale. Rivers later reversed course, and that trio stayed together for two more first-round losses. But now Paul (Rockets), Griffin (Pistons) and Jordan (Mavericks) are all playing elsewhere.
Yet, Rivers is still coaching the Clippers.
“I needed the change. I wouldn’t have done this with the same group. I wouldn’t be here probably,” Rivers said. “We just needed change. We needed it and we just had to do it. We had to come to the conclusion we weren’t going to win.”
They were, in their first year together, a fluky final minute away from having a good chance of eliminating the Thunder and moving to the 2014 conference finals. And a year later, the team collapsed against Houston.
“Once those two years happened, it was really over for us,” he said.
With that attitude, it was.
The Clippers experienced plenty of misfortune during their run – injuries, the Rockets getting hot on 3-pointers, more injuries. Those bad breaks could have instilled more resolve in some teams. For the Clippers, it just made them dislike each other.
Perhaps, that was inevitable. Maybe Paul, Griffin and Jordan were the wrong combination of egos.
But I tend to believe they could have made it work better than they did. I also think Rivers’ fatalism about the roster did the team a disservice by instilling a belief that team just didn’t have it. (Rivers’ attempts to build a supporting cast, including the complication of acquiring his son, also didn’t help.)
Still, Rivers is a good coach overall. He got his desired shakeup, and now it’s on him to help guide the Clippers into their next era.