The LA Clippers are coming off a disappointing playoff exit falling well short of competing for an NBA title. It’s has quickly shifted the focus around the franchise toward possible massive changes in the offseason. The Clippers have now swiftly decided to move on from longtime head coach Doc Rivers.
Clippers fire Doc Rivers
Following a franchise-changing offseason that saw the Clippers land star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, it elevated championship-or-bust expectations.
Throughout the 2019-20 season, LA was labeled by many as the favorites to secure their first NBA title. However, their playoff push unraveled in the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets after letting a 3-1 series lead slip out of their grasp.
It immediately shifted the attention toward possible internal issues being prominent reasons for their shortcomings. That has now resulted in the Clippers deciding to fire head coach Doc Rivers after seven seasons, according to Adrian Wojnarowksi of ESPN.
In light of that, Rivers took to social media to voice his appreciation for the opportunity to coach the franchise.
“Thank you Clipper Nation for allowing me to be your coach and for all your support in helping make this a winning franchise. When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization. While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through.”
Rivers continued: “Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support. Thank you to all the players, coaches, and staff for helping us get there. Most importantly, thank you to the fans. We went through a lot, and I am grateful for my time here.”
The 58-year-old helped guide the Clippers to six playoff appearances, four 50-win campaigns, and a Pacific division title. The Clippers struggled in the postseason with three first-round exits and never reached the Western Conference Finals. Rivers still has two years remaining on his contract.
Clippers are moving in a new direction
Doc Rivers brought forth tremendous stability to the Clippers.
He helped navigate the waters for the franchise through the Donald Sterling situation while the team continued to find success. Rivers was also one of the most prominent voices in the league concerning social injustice issues during this challenging time.
However, it came down to the Clippers’ performance on the court this season. The franchise had championship expectations and fell well short of reaching those aspirations. Beyond that, it wasn’t just this year that led to his firing as the organization wanted to take the next step throughout Rivers’ tenure.
He experienced much with the franchise over the last seven seasons, but it’s the continued playoff shortcomings that lost him the job. The failure with the Clippers’ stacked roster in the 2019-20 season may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
What’s next for Doc Rivers?
Although it’s a disappointing end to Doc Rivers’ tenure with the Clippers, it puts him on the open market.
A few NBA teams possess head coach openings that could see him quickly get back into the league. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated tweeted that the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans have already reached out to him.
Meanwhile, the decision to part ways from Rivers likely means some massive changes ahead for the Clippers. He had a considerable influence over the franchise throughout the management, coaching staff, and player personnel. There will be more to come on that front in the next several months with seismic changes ahead.