Lucas and I have already done a podcast giving our reaction to the news of the Doc Rivers firing, but here are the thoughts of the rest of the staff.
I’m mentally torn in the same way I was torn when the Clippers traded away Blake Griffin: it’s the right move, but it’s a difficult one. Doc Rivers was more than a coach to this Clippers team; he was our general, fighting battles side-by-side on the front lines, leading us through the removal of Donald Sterling, joining us in protest against police brutality, and ultimately being at the center of the Clippers’ transformation from laughing stock to top-tier organization. So, while I agree his coaching style just wasn’t the right fit for this Clippers team, Doc will always hold a special place in the hearts of Clipper fans as a true leader that made us proud to be Clipper fans.
It’s always easier to fire the coach than to fire the players. It (the firing) is more than unfair to Doc, when the Clippers ran plays in the 4th quarter of Game 7 that resulted in layups and wide open threes, which they then missed – badly. He can’t actually shoot the ball for them – they have to do that part. The announcement called it mutual. Maybe it was; we might never know. But coaches matter less and less – and if the players have tuned out his voice, then sure, make a change.
(I would also say that we need to disentangle Doc “Spokesman for the NBA and eloquent voice during racially troubled times” from Doc “Coach who had a championship caliber team up 3-1”. I adore Doc and think he is an important voice in American society right now. But that’s not the same as coaching.)
I’ve been calling for Doc’s firing before the buzzer even rang on the Clippers season. I think it is a bold and forward thinking move to a problem that has probably been lingering even longer than I have felt. It definitely feels like it shows strength in the franchise. I will miss Doc for many reasons, but I think the Clippers are past his coaching.
I’m a sentimental guy. Doc Rivers’ presence turned the Clippers into a now yearly top-tier NBA squad instead of a perennial laughing-stock (although his repeated playoff disappointments have elicited laughter from non-Clips fans), so yes, I’m a bit sad to see him go.
The majority of me, however, is happy to see him leave. It was starting to get annoying when us bozos on Twitter would witness his iffy tactics and substitution patterns and constantly ask “why?”. Doc Rivers refused to adapt and couldn’t corral a locker-room that had immense chemistry the year before. All good things come to an end, and while Doc was mostly great for the franchise, what happened this season was inexcusable. For that, it was time.
I’m really torn about the move to fire Doc. On the one hand, the playoff exit was horrendous, and clearly Doc made some questionable rotation decisions that contributed to the implosion. On the other hand, I don’t think this year’s playoffs are in any way indicative of what would’ve happened in a normal year.
I agree with Doc that the team was just rounding into form when the season was interrupted. And in my opinion, it’s no coincidence that the two biggest bubble disappointments were also the two teams most adversely impacted—the Bucks with Kenosha and their subsequent leading of the players’ strike, and the Clippers with their rash of family deaths that led to lengthy quarantines and the team having no chance to play together and get in rhythm before the start of the playoffs.
To me the bottom line will be who is chosen as his replacement. Despite his obvious flaws, I still think Doc is in the upper tier of NBA coaches, and the team as currently constructed would be capable of winning a title with him at the helm. But if they end up finding an innovative coach whose schemes can get them to play up to the level of their talent on the defensive end, then it will have been the right move.
I was a bit surprised to learn of Doc’s departing from the team simply because I didn’t think it would happen. However, now that it has happened, I’m not shocked at all. Steve Ballmer is here to win championships, and he’s willing to go to any length in order to do so. I think we all can agree that we will forever appreciate everything Doc has done for this franchise, and that we wish him nothing but the best going forward. But it was time.
I was surprised by the news, as everything we had heard previously (from national and local reporters) was that Doc was not going anywhere. However, the decision, while a risky one, is probably the correct call. Doc clearly had trouble reaching the team this year, as their complacency and lack of chemistry showed, and articles that have been written since then (by Jovan Buha of the Athletic and Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN) have expounded upon. And there is really no question among anyone that his coaching performance in the playoffs was disastrous, an absolutely fire-worthy offense.
The question, of course, is who will replace Doc, a legitimate franchise and NBA legend. Doc had his weaknesses, but he’s also a proven quantity. Will the Clippers go with someone else who’s well-known (Tyronn Lue, Jeff Van Gundy), or tap a first-time head coach with more potential upside and innovation but also more risk? This will be Steve Ballmer’s first coaching search, and I’m excited to see the result. And, of course, best wishes to Doc, someone who belongs in the conversation with Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Ballmer himself as a crucial figure in the franchise’s transformation from laughingstock to legitimacy.
Well, now that you’ve seen the reaction of our staff to the Doc Rivers firing, what are your thoughts now that we’ve had a day or two to process the news? Let us know in the comments below!