[Poll] Should Doc be fired if the Clippers come up short again?


Though it was never said aloud, the minute Doc Rivers arrived in Los Angeles during the summer of 2013 via trade it was known the Clippers window to compete for a championship wasn’t long. Not that the core of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan couldn’t be talented enough for the franchise to be considered contenders until Paul faced a steep on-court decline, but because that’s just how things work in the NBA.

Without a ring, or close to, and teams attempt to go in another direction to get the job done, moving pieces –whether players, front office members, or the coach — in the process.

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  • In two seasons under Rivers, the Clippers fall more into the category of “not close”, with both seasons ending in embarrassing fashion after holding a lead of some sort in the Wester semi-finals — OKC in 2013, dropping a 2-1 lead, and HOU in 2014, dropping a 3-1 lead.

    Now, in year 3, equipped with a better bench, it’s wholly expected the Clippers prove to be bonafide contenders, whether that means appearing in the Western Conference finals, which would be a first for the Clippers franchise, or appearing in the NBA Finals, as winners or loser; if not, it could mean the end for Doc Rivers, or at least that’s what people are beginning to believe as the pressure mounts.

    When the Clippers pulled off the “blockbuster trade” to acquire Doc Rivers in the summer of 2013, losing their 2015 first-rounder (which later became George State guard R.J. Hunter at 28th overall) in the process, the idea wasn’t to gradually maintain the status shown under Vinny Del Negro. Rivers had proven in a recent past to be able to guide a team to a championship (2008) or very close to (2010). With the Clippers talents in Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and an amendable supporting cast (at least in year 1), the belief was the group + Rivers was at least a year away from a championship.

    Given Rivers’ power in the organization, it’s safe to say Rivers won’t fire himself if the team fails to reach or succeed expectation, but after shelling out $2 billion on the franchise, who says owner Steve Ballmer won’t. This isn’t to say Rivers isn’t Ballmer’s guy — they seem to be pretty close since the acquisition wade made final, but we’ve seen many a time how new regime’s grow impatient with a crop of persons accumulated prior to their arrival, and that applies t not only Rivers but the entire franchise as they were all hired under Donald Sterling. If forced to guess, the lone person safe in case Ballmer breaks the emergency hatchet and orders change is Blake Griffin, who like Chris Paul, is a bonafide superstar but unlike Chris Paul, is in the middle of his basketball prime — or just reaching it; who knows. DeAndre Jordan is close second, as a move shipping him out could deter Griffin from re-signing with the franchise. It’s a lot here — Paul’s a free agent in 2017 so a new general manager could decide against re-signing the point guard who’d then be 32 years old — but you can never look past if it Ballmer mashes the red button and opens the Clippers up for an on-the-fly rebuild to turn them into contenders.

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    Thinking about the situation, the idea that would make the most sense — at least to me — if Ballmer wants change is giving the core (Griffin, Paul, Jordan) one more season, demoting Rivers to head coach only, and finding someone who can be a successful general manager. Because when you look back at the Clippers’ issues in years 1 and 2, outside of small sample sizes that have swayed series decisions, the common denominator across the 160+ games is insufficient player from the surrounding players. A better general manager could place the right utility players around the stars, pushing them closer to the championship; who knows, but Rivers’ track record gives reason to believe someone could easily do better, even with the limited resources (which is also kind of Rivers’ fault also but that’s another story).

    All-in-all, this could be the end of an era if the pieces don’t fall in order, so let us know what you think below in the poll if you think Rivers should be fired if the Clippers fail to make the Western Conference finals this season.

    Next: Blake Griffin is on his way to being MVP