Over the past couple of years, the Los Angeles Clippers have made some bold moves in the hopes of improving the team’s immediate and future chances at winning its first NBA title.
The process started by sending franchise point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets.
Shortly after signing Blake Griffin to a max contract and labeling him as the face of the franchise, they shipped him off in a shocking mid-season trade with the Detroit Pistons this past season.
Since DeAndre Jordan holds a player option for the upcoming season, there’s a realistic possibility that all three key members of the “Lob City” era will be playing elsewhere this fall.
On Tuesday, another player that was a part of the Lob City squads was sent packing.
Considering who he is, the move was a very significant one from an organizational perspective.
As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Clippers traded combo guard Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Marcin Gortat.
In doing so, the NBA’s first father-son coach-player duo has come to an end.
It’s important to note that although Doc Rivers once held control of the team’s personnel decisions, a combination of special advisor Jerry West, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and general manager Michael Winger now presumably call the shots.
The elder Rivers originally traded a second-round pick to the Boston Celtics in exchange for his son in January of 2015.
The move makes sense from a basketball perspective. On Thursday, the Clippers drafted their backcourt of the future when they selected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out of the University of Kentucky and Jerome Robinson out of Boston College. Since veterans Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic will also be returning, it would have created a bit of a crowd if Rivers was also in the mix.
It also makes sense from a financial and team building perspective. If Jordan declines his option, Gortat could instantly start and would be a veteran interior presence. Further, Gortat is entering the final year of his contract and will not carry a burden in that regard past the upcoming season.
If Jordan accepts the option and returns, Gortat’s presence could allow the Clippers to pursue a trade for DJ either before the new season or during the campaign before the deadline. That way, they wouldn’t completely lose out if he walks away next summer.
While the move might seem insignificant as a whole, it could also be perceived as a clear warning shot towards Coach Rivers. Since the Clippers have made it clear that they're committed to winning as soon as possible, no one (not even the coach’s son) is safe from being replaced.