This season has been an utter disaster for the Los Angeles Clippers.
At 8-14, they’ve fallen short of the playoff-bound standards that they’ve built over the last handful of seasons. While key injuries have played a major role, it doesn’t erase the sting that losses create for a franchise desperate for its first championship.
Losing four starters (Blake Griffin, Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari) due to injuries would undoubtedly hurt any NBA team and the Clippers have gone just 4-6 in front of their home fans and have gone 3-7 overall in their last 10 games.
To add, All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan has been the focus of recent trade rumors as many pundits have hypothesized that the team will rebuild in the near future. This comes after the team famously traded Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets in the offseason.
Therefore, with a complete rebuild possibly on the way, the team could very well part ways with coach Doc Rivers in the hopes of gaining a fresh start.
According to USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick, Rivers’ job is safe for the remainder of this season, no matter what happens on the court.
“Three people with knowledge of the situation say Rivers is likely safe for this season, with his championship resume still held in high regard and the injuries to four of five opening-night starters having made it unfair – in Ballmer’s eyes – to accurately judge his coaching performance this season. Point guard Patrick Beverley (knee surgery last month) is out for the season, while guard Milos Teodosic (out since the second game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot) and forward Danilo Gallinari (13 games missed with a left glute injury) are likely to return soon,” he reported.
It’s worth noting that while Beverley is out for the rest of the season, Griffin is expected to miss about another month of play while Gallinari and Teodosic should be back on the court sometime in the next few games.
Therefore, there’s still plenty of time for Rivers and his team to salvage what has been a disastrous start.
However, if the organization decides to start fresh, Rivers could be on his way out the door after this season, especially if Los Angeles misses the playoffs. After all, winning an NBA title is the ultimate goal and the Clippers have never even been to the Finals.
What’s obvious is that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer believes in finding reputable names to put in power within his franchise. He made a number of offseason moves to ensure that his team is being run the right way behind the scenes.
“The 61-year-old, who stands at No. 15 on Forbes’ latest list of wealthiest Americans, lured Jerry West away from the Golden State Warriors as a consultant in mid-July, paying him between $4 million and $5 million annually to be a trusted and unfiltered voice on all personnel matters,” Amick noted.
“He put Lawrence Frank in charge of the front office in early August, taking away the title he gave Rivers while leaving him on as head coach,” Amick also pointed out. “He added three respected executives in general manager Michael Winger (formerly of the Oklahoma City Thunder) while Trent Redden (from the Cavaliers) and Mark Hughes (from the New York Knicks) came on board as assistant general managers. Former general manager Dave Wohl also remains as a special advisor to Frank.”
Therefore, it seems as though Rivers’ relationship with those in the front office might be the most important aspect of his future with the club, as they undoubtedly have a lot of combined power in the overall decision-making process of the franchise.