Change is afoot in Los Angeles, and it seems it all started with the firing of head coach Doc Rivers on Monday. After a disastrously disappointing finish in the 2020 postseason, team owner Steve Ballmer made the choice to move on from Rivers, who had been with the club for seven years.
New information has since emerged, detailing the process he went through in the hours leading up the decision.
So when Ballmer and Rivers began discussing what had gone wrong this season, sources said that instinct is what led Ballmer to question whether a new way of looking at the team, or a new voice, is what the Clippers really needed.
Over the course of about 10 days following the Clippers’ Game 7 loss to the Nuggets, the third consecutive game the team had blown a double-digit lead in the second half, Ballmer and Rivers had multiple lengthy phone conversations, sources said.
He also consulted Kawhi and Paul George, who apparently failed to convince Steve to keep their head coach on.
Ballmer consulted with Frank, minority shareholder Dennis Wong, consultant Jerry West and general manager Michael Winger. Before a final decision was made, sources said Ballmer called several key players — including George and Leonard — to get their opinions. Nothing the players told him, sources said, changed Ballmer’s mind about moving on from Rivers. Ultimately, the decision to part ways with Rivers was Ballmer’s.
Ultimately, both Ballmer and Doc seemed to agree that it was time to move on.
Rivers didn’t feel comfortable continuing as coach without the full support of Ballmer, believing a solid relationship between the coach and ownership was fundamental to success in the NBA. Ballmer didn’t feel entirely convinced that Rivers had a better strategy and approach to next season than a new coach with a new viewpoint.
It seems notable that neither Kawhi nor George seemed to want Rivers around badly enough to make a convincing argument and save his job. Perhaps there was a rift between him and the two stars? Perhaps they blame Doc for their shortcomings? Maybe they just want another man for the job?
Whatever the case, that chapter has closed, and we’ll see whether or not it brings about a change in the right direction.
With Kawhi and PG available to become free agents next year, the Clippers don’t really have time to mess around.