No coaching seat in the NBA seems hotter than the one on which Doc Rivers is sitting.
Not only are the Los Angeles Clippers 4-14 over their past 18 games, but the team stripped Rivers of his official front-office powers over the summer, turning instead to Lawrence Frank as vice president of basketball operations and hiring Jerry West as a special consultant. Sprinkle in Chris Paul’s departure and the DeAndre Jordan rumor mill, and it seems like only a matter of time before he’s sent packing in favor of a franchise pivot.
But that change might not come this season, if it comes at all, according to USA Today‘s Sam Amick:
Are the Clippers considering firing coach Doc Rivers, who had his front office duties stripped last summer and who has one season left on the five-year, $50 million deal he signed in the summer of 2014?
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.
Waiting to render a verdict on Rivers’ future makes a bunch of sense. Getting rid of him won’t suddenly make the roster healthy. The Clippers are currently missing Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley, the latter of whom is expected to miss the rest of this year.
These injury bugs aren’t on Rivers. Nor, by extension, is the Clippers’ record. Now, should Los Angeles hold on to Jordan, get Gallinari, Teodosic and Griffin back, and then still continue to rack up losses in volume, Rivers’ gig could be in more immediate jeopardy. That scenario would imply he’s lost the ability to leave his imprint on the squad, either tactically or emotionally.
For now, though, he is in lockstep with the rest of the Clippers—a victim to unfortunate health bills more than anything else.