Culture is important in the NBA, and the Los Angeles Clippers don't have one. They have steadily built a semblance of one on the back of Blake Griffin's dunks over the past three seasons, however, a hiring of this magnitude would signal a seismic shift in what we think about Donald Sterling's team.
Rivers' sudden availability has made an already exciting postseason coaching carousel in the NBA even more intriguing for the Clippers. They are primed to make a big step next season, and Rivers could lead them to the promised land across a formerly treacherous Western Conference that has steadily begun to part.
The 57-win Denver Nuggets are apparently in the throws of chaos. While the team has remarkable depth for a deep playoff run, wunderkind general manager Masai Ujiri is off to the Toronto Raptors for big money. George Karl, the man responsible for molding this ragtag team of role players into an offensive juggernaut while winning the 2012-2013 Coach of the Year Award, also could not come to an agreement with management and is out as well. With no major star and apparently shifting toward rebuilding the Nuggets are headed nowhere.
In Memphis, a similar situation has materialized with Lionel Hollins leaving town after purported "philosophical differences" with Grizzlies management. A small market coupled with owners that seem to value cold analytics over loyalty to the coach that brought them the furthest they've ever been in the postseason seems to point to the Grizzlies trending down. However, that may be due to Zach Randolph's decline than any decision made by the front office.
Surprising as it may sound, the Clippers continue their streak overdue of good luck that began with drafting of Blake Griffin and being gifted Chris Paul. They have their pick of an outstanding group of experienced coaches. Brian Shaw, Nate McMillan and Byron Scott -- as well as Karl and Hollins -- are being bandied about. Not surprisingly, Rivers' entrance into the foray trumps them all.
Striving for Greatness
These other five coaches would undoubtedly do a better job than Vinny Del Negro because of differences in philosophy and willingness to make adjustments, along with the growth of the team's young players. Rivers would not only get the Clippers victories, but his hiring would also signify a compete change in the direction of the team.
The Clippers cannot win a championship without a cathartic release of years of basketball bile that have sullied the innards of this franchise. Barring Donald Sterling selling the team and moving as far away as humanly possible from Southern California, bringing in Rivers makes a bold statement that has been heretofore unheard in Clipper Land: We are committed to winning.
Chris Paul needs to know this. Fans need to know this. Incoming free agents need to know this.
Rivers Will Command Respect
The Brooklyn Nets' selection of Jason Kidd instead of another retread coach is a perfect example of why this coaching hire is incredibly significant for the next 10 years in Los Angeles. The Nets brought in Kidd to signal to the players, specifically former Chris Paul rival Deron Williams, that our team is about winning. Kidd is a winner and the greatest Net ever. Respect him and learn from him.
Doc Rivers' sheer presence in the Los Angeles locker room would remind Paul, Griffin and the rest of the team that championships are what is expected this season and every season going forward with this nucleus. This is what Paul wants, and this is what many of the younger players need.
If Paul returns, the Clippers have the best talent available for Rivers to ply his trade. Paul and Griffin are spectacular building blocks, and Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan are young intriguing pieces. Vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks can put a team together and is a key cog in this shift toward respectability. Also for kicks, the Lakers are in a state of Dwight Howard-induced uncertainty.
Things have almost turned around for the Los Angeles Clippers. Although the Celtics seem resistant to letting Rivers go, it seems he and the front office understand that a regime change is due in Boston. Getting Rivers an office in Playa Vista would give him a new challenge and finally exercise the demons in Los Angeles.
Brandon lives in Los Angeles and watches sports more than a normal person should. He has written and podcasted for SLAMonline, and is a former Los Angeles Clippers Intern.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Doc Rivers
- Blake Griffin
- Boston Celtics
- Chris Paul
- Los Angeles