The Clippers’ loss to the Nuggets was devastating. L.A. was a huge favorite. Blowing a 3-1 lead added to the misery. As did the Clippers’ history of futility, which was supposed to end with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
But Doc Rivers’ job appeared safe in the aftermath.
Then, the Clippers suddenly ousted him as coach yesterday.
There was no aha moment or event that led to the Clippers’ and Doc Rivers’ decision to mutually part ways on Monday afternoon, league sources told The Athletic.
Following the Clippers’ premature postseason ouster, Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer held several candid meetings and conversations, league sources said.
They discussed where things went wrong for the Clippers in the playoffs and forecasted their visions of the organization’s future, including the team’s style of play, the makeup of the roster, player development and on- and off-court leadership.
After hours of back-and-forth, the sides concluded they had differing visions of the team’s path forward
Even if the Clippers had lost deeper in the postseason, say, to the Lakers in the conference finals or to the Heat in the finals, Rivers likely would not have been back next season.
Of course, the Clippers want to present themselves as having made the rational decision. Nobody wants to be the organization that overreacted to a single situation.
The Clippers’ issues – specifically a lack of chemistry – manifested throughout the season. Rivers handled that poorly. That’d be true whether or not the Clippers had enough talent to get by the Nuggets or Lakers, anyway.
Process over results is a nice ethos.
It’s difficult to implement, though.
The collapse against Denver left such a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. However people think they would’ve reacted to a different outcome, it’s impossible to know for certain. So, I have some skepticism about whether Rivers still would’ve been ousted if he guided the Clippers to the Western Conference finals and especially NBA Finals.
That said, he didn’t. Not this year. Not any year.
So, it was easier for the Clippers to move on with a coach they viewed as flawed. They never faced the difficult decision on a coach they viewed as flawed but also had more success. We just can’t know with certainty how that would’ve gone.