It has been almost a week since the Clippers and long-time head coach Doc Rivers parted ways. In that time, outside of the initial flurry of news regarding the various difficulties that Doc had this season and some initial coaching candidates, the trail has gone remarkably cold. So, let’s briefly look at the Clippers coaching search and update the information we’ve received over the past week.
The only candidate tied to the Clippers that we’ve received updates on is Ty Lue – who has (or had) interviews with the Rockets and Pelicans lined up. While neither the Rockets or Pelicans is quite as good a landing spot as LA in terms of roster strength, the Rockets were still a second-round playoff team this year, while the Pelicans have some of the best young talent in the NBA. The biggest issue with Lue going to either team might be monetary – Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is notoriously cheap, while the Pelicans aren’t known for their spending ways either. Lue, on the other hand, turned down a gig with the Lakers last year at least in part due to lack of money. I’d still keep my eyes on the Pelicans, but the Clippers should be favored to snag Lue over either of those teams. Per Chris Haynes they were scheduled to meet with him yesterday – but nothing has leaked regarding how that meeting went.
Outside of that, nothing. Other teams have showcased interest in potential targets (the Rockets have reached out to David Vanterpool, Stephen Silas, and Wes Unseld Jr., all very well known assistant coaches), but so far, the Clippers have been silent. The only other name we’ve seen repeatedly mentioned is Jeff Van Gundy, but with Van Gundy covering the NBA Finals in the Bubble, there’s no chance that the Clippers get an interview until the Finals is over (which could be soon, to be fair).
However, given what we’ve heard about the Clippers desiring innovation and creativity, it’s odd that the only two candidates who have been given a lot of attention are Lue and Van Gundy. Lue only has one head coaching job under his belt, and while he’s a good coach, innovation is not what he’s known for. Van Gundy hasn’t coached an NBA team in 13 years, and is known for his Knicks teams in the 1990s that played extremely old school. Neither really seems like the kind of coach that the Clippers are really targeting (or at least targeting exclusively).
That means that the Clippers have probably reached out to other candidates (or even held interviews), but have done so quietly. The lack of fanfare is no surprise. This Clippers front office prides itself on keeping things under radio silence, and for not leaking to the media. The suddenness of the Doc Rivers firing (no rumors beforehand) speaks to that. And, similarly to the Kawhi Leonard situation, where Kawhi wanted things kept under wraps, it’s quite possible that the Clippers have asked all the coaches they’ve reached out to to keep quiet as well.
So, the update on the Clippers coaching search is really that there’s not much of an update, but that this is nothing to be concerned about. The Clippers are doing their due diligence, as they should. The hiring of a replacement for Doc Rivers is a massive decision that could quite literally decide the future of the franchise. A successful hire and subsequently successful 2021 season could mean Kawhi Leonard and Paul George stay Clippers for the rest of their careers. A poor hire could mean one or both of those stars leave, and a quick end to this resurgent Clippers franchise. Hopefully the Clippers take their time, handle their business, and find a coach who can meet their requirements of gravitas, innovation, and flexibiliy.