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The Athletic: An Inside Look at the Clippers and Doc River's Decision to part ways after collapse

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by DaneB, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. DaneB

    DaneB Member

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    Do any of you guys have a link to this article? Will be interesting to see what he thinks a flawed roster is and if he could potentially see this with the Rockets.
     
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  2. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

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    An inside look at the Clippers and Doc Rivers’ decision to part ways after another collapse
    Jovan Buha Sep 29, 2020

    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.

    This was not an impulsive overreaction to the organization’s early playoff exit — or, specifically, the blown 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals — but rather an accumulation of philosophical differences through the years and, especially, recent weeks.

    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, leading to the mutual decision to separate after seven seasons together, league sources said.

    From Rivers’ perspective, the Clippers’ roster was flawed, and he tried to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. From the Clippers’ perspective, the team’s overwhelming status as the league’s championship favorites made their second-round collapse inexcusable, and was more of an indictment of Rivers’ coaching than the players’ performances.

    Noise surrounding Rivers’ departure began to pick up about 24 hours ahead of his eventual departure. Still, the news shocked Clipper staffers, as well as rival league personnel. The prior chatter around the NBA was that Rivers, who joined the Clippers in 2013 and had two years left on his deal, would be given a shot at redemption next season.

    The Clippers thoroughly analyzed every angle and variable they could think of before concluding that it was best to move on from Rivers, league sources said.

    They considered the pandemic, the rigors of the Orlando campus and the team’s lack of continuity — with seven players arriving late or leaving the bubble at some point due to COVID-19 or personal tragedy — at the Disney World resort. They deemed that Rivers was dealt an unfavorable hand by any measure.

    At the same time, they reasoned that many of the challenges the Clippers faced this season, including the team’s middling style of play and questionable rotational decisions, were still going to exist in the future. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George potentially entering free agency in the 2021 offseason, that was a looming problem.

    Even a relative return to normalcy during the 2020-21 season — certainly still up in the air — wouldn’t necessarily address some of the philosophical differences between Rivers and the organization. This wasn’t something that could simply be remedied by playing back in Los Angeles in front of Clipper fans or by the players and staff sleeping in their own beds again.

    There were deeper issues at play.
     
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  3. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

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    Two philosophical points of contention between Rivers and the organization were, more recently, his insistence on playing backup center Montrezl Harrell over starting center Ivica Zubac and, at large, his reluctance to develop or empower the team’s younger talent throughout his tenure.

    After a Sixth Man of the Year regular-season campaign, Harrell missed a month in the bubble due to the sickness and eventual passing of his grandmother. Upon returning, he was visibly not himself, offensively or defensively.

    Yet Harrell’s postseason role was that of an effective rotation player (18.7 minutes per game), despite the Clippers posting a team-worst minus-11.6 net rating with him on the floor in the playoffs, including a mind-blowing minus-30.1 net rating while sharing the floor with Leonard and George.

    In comparison, the Clippers had a plus-17.7 net rating with Zubac on the floor in the playoffs and a plus-11.1 net rating with Zubac alongside Leonard and George, with both marks ranked No. 1 among the team’s rotation players.

    It was clear to many that Zubac was the better matchup on both ends versus Dallas and Denver. There was an internal thought process of “How does Rivers not see that Zubac is the more productive player and the better postseason matchup?”

    A common criticism from some within the team — inside and outside the locker room — was that Harrell’s energy and effort was only consistent on the offensive end of the floor, multiple league sources said.

    Meanwhile, Rivers maintained, publicly to the media and privately to his staff and the organization, that Harrell was the better player, in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary.




    Furthermore, the Clippers felt that the team’s on-court metrics — i.e. its elite offense, defense and net rating — belied the eye test. They were really good, with the potential to be great on a given night. But they weren’t consistent.

    There was a distinct lack of joy and on-court chemistry, made worse by the team’s rash of injuries throughout the season and the layoff from the pandemic.

    The organization ultimately determined that the locker room, as currently constructed, lacked the requisite leadership and mettle to be a true championship team. Players weren’t necessarily put in the best position to unlock a better version of themselves, either, with the team not always making appropriate or timely adjustments, league sources said.

    For as disastrous as the Nuggets series was, the Clippers viewed their first-round Mavericks series — being pushed to six games with Kristaps Porzingis out for half the series and Luka Doncic on one good ankle for half of the series — as nearly as embarrassing of an outcome.

    It didn’t all fall on Rivers or his coaching staff. There was plenty of fault to go around, from ownership, to the front office, to the players, to the rest of the staff. But a significant slice of the blame could be attributed to Rivers’ decision-making, particularly after another disappointing postseason outcome.

    Back in mid-February, right before the All-Star break, the Clippers were on the road in Philadelphia in a game hyped as potential Finals preview. With 12.9 seconds remaining in the first half and the Clippers inbounding the ball, Landry Shamet checked into the game for Leonard.

    As Leonard walked toward the Clippers’ bench, he demonstrably gestured towards Rivers, yelling “There’s 12 seconds left! We’re down two!” while throwing up his arms in disappointment at the decision to bench him so late in the half.

    An outward display of emotion like that was rare from Leonard. Before Leonard could sit down, Rivers retracted his decision and instead subbed out Lou Williams.

    Williams, who was setting up on the left block to come off of a Harrell screen, sauntered off the floor, pausing for a second to throw his arms up at Rivers to display his displeasure.

    The interaction was jarring and awkward.

    Josh Richardson, Williams’ defender, pleaded with nearby referee Kane Fitzgerald to give the Clippers a delay-of-game violation over the nearly 30-second substitution process: “Come on now! Come on now! Come on now, Fitz!”

    On one hand, the incident could be chalked up to some mundane disagreement that’s forgotten over the course of an 82-game season. Star players, in particular, will lobby to their coaches to close quarters or halves, and for good reason. Leonard scored on the ensuing possession.

    But on the other hand, some observers felt that interaction encapsulated Rivers’ inability to manage the demands of adhering to his new stars, Leonard and George, while simultaneously sustaining the cooperation from the old guard of the roster — mainly Williams, Harrell and Patrick Beverley — according to league sources.

    The Clippers’ preferential treatment of Leonard and George was an issue for multiple teammates all season, as The Athletic reported in January. This was just one example of many.

    Rivers, in the undeniably difficult position of juggling multiple egos and sensitive personalities, never struck the necessary balance in the locker room. It’s telling that, as of this writing, no Clipper player has publicly thanked or defended Rivers on social media after his departure.

    Remember: This wasn’t the Clippers’ first postseason disappointment under Rivers. More importantly, it wasn’t the first disappointment with Rivers as the coach under Ballmer. The Clippers’ 2015 Western Conference semifinals series loss to the Rockets, in which they also held a 3-1 series lead, was the franchise’s postseason low point until the Denver debacle.

    Rivers only won three playoff series in six appearances with the Clippers. In addition to his NBA-record three series lost after holding a 3-1 series lead, Rivers’ 3-8 record in potential series-clinching games with the Clippers is tied for the worst record with one team in NBA history.

    Aside from the underwhelming results, the Clippers identified troubling patterns in the collapses. If anything, the separation was probably years in the making. 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.

    After 13 days of self-reflection and examination, the Clippers deemed that the coaching-led process that caused them to lose a 3-1 series lead — a process that started long before the bubble — was worse than the humiliating result itself.
     
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  4. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

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    Rivers leaves the Clippers in high standing. He’s the franchise record-holder in essentially every notable coaching category: most games coached (564), most wins (356), best regular-season winning percentage (.631), most playoff games coached (59) and most playoff wins (27). Overall, the Clippers had the fifth-best record in the NBA during his tenure.

    Objectively, the 58-year-old is one of the best and most successful coaches of all time, ranking 11th on the all-time regular-season wins list and seventh on the all-time postseason wins list, to go along with his 2008 championship in Boston and 2010 finals appearance.

    Along with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, Rivers deserves credit for legitimizing the Clipper franchise. He’s been an instrumental figure on and off the floor, serving as the calming force during the Donald Sterling saga and the face of the franchise in its discourse against racial issues and police brutality. He helped recruit Leonard, which could be his most important contribution if the Clippers ever win a championship with Leonard at the helm.

    As the Clippers move forward, they are embarking on a thorough coaching search. There is no clear-cut No. 1 candidate yet. The hiring process could take several weeks, though the team is open to offering the position to the right candidate immediately. This was not a move they made with another coach waiting in the wings to be hired, league sources said.

    The Clippers will take their time, regardless of other franchises’ timelines with their coaching availabilities or the top coaching candidates threatening to take other jobs. Hiring a head coach is a first for Ballmer and the front office, and it promises to be a meticulous process.

    The Clippers don’t necessarily have a stylistic mandate or preference for their coach or the team next season. They want their next coach to be a high-level game strategist who values progress and innovation, seeking any edge possible.

    They also want a coach who prioritizes player development and can uphold the tough, gritty identity that the franchise cultivated as overachieving underdogs during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

    Just as important, they would like to get back to playing fun and competitive basketball that their fans can enjoy and be proud of backing. This season’s squad, while relatively successful on paper, wasn’t always enjoyable to watch.

    Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue is among the candidates for the head coaching position, league sources confirmed to The Athletic. ESPN reported that ESPN NBA color commentator and former Knicks and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy will also garner consideration.

    Despite the demands of the high-profile gig — the next coach will enter a daunting win-now situation — the Clippers will also examine first-year head coaches. The team will study a multitude of candidates in an attempt to uncover its own version of a Lue, Steve Kerr or Nick Nurse — coaches who won a championship in their first year of coaching — league sources said.

    The Clippers’ vacancy, the sixth on the market, is arguably the most appealing when considering the roster’s talent, the front office’s track record, ownership’s competitiveness and willingness to spend, and the Los Angeles market, both for lifestyle and attracting and retaining free agents.

    This isn’t exactly a great coaching free-agent market, but there rarely is one. Names like Gregg Popovich or Erik Spoelstra are seldom, if ever, available. The Clippers determined that the risk of moving on from Rivers was worth it, considering the upside of finding a coach who better fits their sensibilities and long-term vision.

    In the end, the Clippers wanted change next season. That change could have conceivably come from Rivers, had the organization’s diagnosis of its maladies aligned with Rivers’ analysis. But it didn’t.

    Ultimately, the Clippers and Rivers agreed that he wasn’t the right doctor to cure their ailments.

    https://theathletic.com/2100899/202...decision-to-part-ways-after-another-collapse/
     
  5. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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    "I know what we need to do" said Kawhi Leonard, "play less basketball, it's kind of boring"
     
  6. TimDuncanDonaut

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    The reporting has been with Doc and the Clipppers org. Technically Doc was part of the Org. It's this nebulous thing. Clippers GM is Michael Winger. If he was one of the people on the other side of the table, well step up. It's like if the next coach can't make this group work, the GM "not named" is somehow not on the hook.

    Trez only play with more energy on the offensive end :p. It's his contract year, man is trying to get the bag.
     
  7. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة

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    MDA would have been canned the first or second season if he were the Clips coach too.
     
  8. Ziggy

    Ziggy 99ers STAND BY
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    At first I was like.... WOW - Rivers didn't think he had a good enough roster?!

    Then... I saw he didn't feel Harrell was all that.

    In which case... I AGREE 100%.

    So yeah, if they truly did mutually terminate, good move all around.

    Harrell isn't saving that team.
     
  9. Major

    Major Member

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    Interesting to see how this went down relative to the Rockets' fiasco.
     
  10. ElPigto

    ElPigto Member
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    Difference between a good owner and a bad owner.
     
  11. adoo

    adoo Member

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    if Glen Rivers did say that, he is full of it.

    the Clips were 2 deep at every position;
    Clips' first unit off the bench can beat many teams' starting lineup

    that's why they were the overwhelming favorites going into the bubble​
     
  12. jiggyfly

    jiggyfly Member
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    What fiasco?
     
  13. Major

    Major Member

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    No discussions between management and coach, constantly being on different pages, hurt feelings, coach essentially quitting in a statement to the media without telling players or management, etc.

    Comparatively, the two sides with the Clippers discussed their differing beliefs about what went wrong, decided they weren't on the same page, and agreed to part ways.
     
    zeeshan2 and jiggyfly like this.
  14. jiggyfly

    jiggyfly Member
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    Ok that makes sense.
     

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