According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has been fired and will not return to the team next season.

Rivers offered the following thank you to Clippers fans–and while I had argued that Rivers ought to be fired, it is worth a good amount of appreciation that he led this team through the Donald Sterling saga and into the Steve Ballmer era. Despite his shortcomings in the postseason, Rivers played as huge a role in turning the Clippers franchise around as Chris Paul or Blake Griffin.

Rivers oversaw the best seven-year stretch in team history, going 356-208 (.631) in 564 regular season games and making the playoffs six out of seven years. However, it was what happened in the playoffs that gave Rivers a well-deserved bad reputation: despite having enormously talented teams, Rivers only won three playoff series in seven years and, in historically embarrassing fashion, infamously blew not one but two 3-1 leads in the second round to prevent the franchise from advancing to their first-ever Conference Finals appearance.

The first instance was in 2015 against the Houston Rockets, and the latter came just two weeks ago, as the heavily-favored Clippers blew three straight double-digit leads in games 5, 6, and 7 to lose to the Denver Nuggets, who were then promptly dispatched in 5 games in the Western Conference Finals by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Against Denver, Rivers’ coaching was the team’s clearest weakness: they had no coherent gameplan defensively and no cohesion on offense, utilized horrific lineup rotations that the Nuggets gleefully exploited, and lacked the leadership and poise to win games in the face of runs from their opponents–the opposite of what the LA Lakers and Miami Heat did in closeout games en route to being the NBA’s two finalists.

It’s been a massive summer for the NBA’s coaching carousel, and Rivers is just the latest in a slew of playoff coaches–including Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan (who has since signed with Chicago), Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, Indiana’s Nate McMillan, and Philadelphia’s Brett Brown–to be on the market.

The tricky part about firing a head coach is finding a replacement who is better than him. For years, that’s been the talking point with Rivers: he makes mistakes, but he brings a lot of good things to the table as well, and who would you replace him with? But that argument has grown tired as the league watched the Golden State Warriors fire Mark Jackson and become one of the league’s greatest dynasties under Steve Kerr, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers firing David Blatt and winning a title under Ty Lue and then the Toronto Raptors firing Dwane Casey and winning a title under Nick Nurse. All three of those incumbents oversaw successful seasons and playoff appearances, but each team improved under a first-time NBA head coach and won a title after the change.

The Clippers will hope to replicate that formula, which means staying away from retreads who have proven to be not championship-level head coaches, such as the aforementioned group of guys on the market. The most obvious name for the Clippers to consider is Lue, who wound up as Rivers’ number 1 assistant after leaving Cleveland, but if the staff’s performance was poor enough that Doc Rivers was fired by the Clippers, expect them to look elsewhere. Potential candidates could include some of the league’s top assistants, like Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, who has been linked to head coaching vacancies across the league, or a member of the staff of the overachieving Miami Heat–perhaps Dan Craig, who followed Erik Spoelstra’s footsteps from assistant video coordinator all the way to the bench (winning an NBA G-League title along the way), or veteran big Udonis Haslem, who has essentially been an assistant coach in recent years.

While we await further word on the team’s off-season plans, the big news is here: Doc Rivers has been fired by the LA Clippers, and a different coach will be at the helm as they vie for redemption next season.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

133 Comments

  • Avatar Labis says:

    Finally!

    Curious about who comes next!

    Maybe just Lue although he seems to be in the running for other jobs.

    I bet Doc finds another gig (76ers or rockets)

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    The right move but genuinely shocked Ballmer pulled the trigger. Not sure Ty is an upgrade but we have our pick of anyone really.

    Please no Jason Kidd and I’m a Golden Bear.

    Go Clips!

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    wow, as much as I said Doc deserved to go this time, I never expected it to actually happen. I’m a bit torn, he’s become really the face of this franchise, and a respected figure throughout the league. I do feel like having him at the helm for the last 7 years has brought a level of respectability to this franchise that they had really never had before. Seeing him leave is bittersweet.

    Through his ups and downs, I’ve always defended Doc, but I did feel like he did not do a good job these playoffs. I sort of want to chalk it up to being a crazy year, and he over most coaches, had a ton on his shoulders given the racial injustice movement hovering over the playoffs. But I do admit, he’s become an average coach at best. There are at least 10 guys I would trade him for in a heartbeat.

    You hope they can find an elite coach to replace him, but I do feel like there is no guarantee of that. I think at this point, I’m feeling probably mostly nervous than anything about who they’ll choose.

    • Avatar dhpat says:

      Agreed, it is bittersweet. Change is not easy, but necessary. We have to pick up the pieces and forge a winner. Go Clippers!

    • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

      Definitely bittersweet. He guided through the franchise’s worst time but also to our highest points ever. Doc’s a great leader and a man of principle. Wish him the best.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    I trust this FO to make the right call. Hope the don’t underwhelm with a “safe” choice like Lue or Cassell. Would rather see some fresh blood. Don’t have anyone in mind but hopefully FO can find the next Kerr/Nurse type coach.

  • Avatar ajk777 says:

    Thank God!! Didn’t expect this to happen, but I’m glad it did. Looks like Ballmer got tired of Doc’s shit too, and I don’t blame him one bit. Don’t get me wrong, Doc is a nice guy. But he’s just not a good coach and he’s just been living off of the coattails of his time with the Celtics and that one championship he got with that top-to-bottom stacked team.

    Now that Doc is gone, let’s go get Kenny Atkinson. No retreads like Lue, please.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    I’ll start by saying I really am grateful to Doc. He helped keep the team together during the Sterling fiasco, is generally a great human being, and has overseen the most successful eras in Clippers basketball – to those of us old enough to remember the bad times, Doc was here for the good times, and I’m sure I’ll eventually look back at his time here fondly. That being said, it was time for a change – the numerous playoff choke jobs, the varying degrees of locker room dysfunction that have been around during his tenure, and the horrendous rotation decisions (borne out of an overly strong sense of loyalty) have long since run their course.

    As to who to replace him with….I really have no idea. Just off the top of my head, Ty Lue, Kenny Atkinson, and Dave Joerger spring to mind, but here’s an article from ESPN from a week ago that has a much longer look at candidates:

    https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29263878/top-nba-head-coach-prospects-tyronn-lue-tom-thibodeau-chris-finch

    I will say, even though I don’t really know who I want to replace Doc yet, I do know who I *don’t* want. PLEASE NONE of Mark Jackson, Stan Van Gundy, Mike D’Antoni, Brett Brown, or Jason Kidd.

    I still have faith in our FO and ownership (which is…an odd feeling, as a long-time Clippers fan), and I expect that they’ll find someone who will bring us closer to the promise land. Only other big-ticket item on my offseason (realistic) wish-list is for a Trez SnT. Let’s go Clips!

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      Also forgot one more name on the DO NOT HIRE list (though I assume he’s not a viable candidate for any open position, much less the Clippers’ job): HELLZ TO THE NO TO JIM BOYLEN PLEASE.

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    I hope we at least take a look at Nate McMillan. A smart no bullshit dude who’s won everywhere he’s gone.

  • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

    Yesssss!!! The excuses have finally stopped working.

    Hopefully the Clippers don’t screw this up by making a kneejerk promotion of one of his assistants. The front office should be doing an in-depth search for the next Spo/Nurse/Stevens.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Steve calls up Pop and convinces him to give it one year to coach us to the ‘chip and then retire.

  • Avatar DieterDeux says:

    Coach I want to have a beer with: Doc Rivers
    Coach I want to teach my underperforming big man: Doc Rivers
    Coach I want to play for if I’m trying to get a 6th man award: Doc Rivers
    Coach I want at the helm if my team has to go through some unbelievably weird/tragic shit: Doc Rivers
    Coach I want if my team has legitimate title aspirations: Not Doc Rivers

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      You forgot:

      Coach I want to be playing against if my team is down 3-1 in a playoff series and behind by double digits in the 3rd quarter: Doc Rivers

      and

      Coach I want to be playing for when I suck ass in the playoffs but am up for a contract year and don’t want to be benched to lower my market value: Doc Rivers

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    I will NEVER forgive both Doc and Trez for derailing what should have been the year we got a chip and at the very least made it to WCF.

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      Never mind that, I still haven’t forgiven Doc for the Rockets series and him blaming it on “the mess of a team he inherited”‘ (you know, the “mess” he demanded a trade to). The Clippers actually let this guy waste FIVE more seasons after that.

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        So true… Clips should have cut bait with Doc after the Houston debacle. Never seen a guy get so much mileage out of 1 Championship with the Celtics.

        • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

          Amazingly, there’s already other teams lining up to interview Doc, despite all of his historic playoff failures, just because he has a ring. The ’08 Celtics is the single most milked championship in sports history and it’s not even close.

        • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

          Ime Udoka is intriguing to me, as is Udonis Haslem and Dan Craig from Miami (how can you not love what the Heat are doing right now)

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Chauncey?

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      I dunno. I really hope they go for some rising star genius assistant coach in the mold of a Kerr, Nurse, Spolestra as opposed to a TV personality or homegrown candidate with Clipper ties. Need fresh blood.

  • teddy green teddy green says:

    Couldn’t the Clippers have traded him for an asset? That what Danny Ainge did. Danny Ainge seems to never let an asset walk out the door, why didn’t the Clippers do likewise?

  • Avatar Antonio C says:

    Years too late with this firing. I would be reluctant to promote his assistants at this point. Some of Doc’s bad decision making could have rubbed off on them. I want a coach that can make adjustments during the game not a guy that gives great quotes to the press.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Wow. Needed to happen, just didn’t think it would. No clue who to get, but I have trust that FO will put in the research and there will no expense sparred in getting who they think is the right guy.

    Regarding additional roster moves. Don’t think we need much more than we have now. I still like Trez. If he accepted a diminished role and committed to defense, he would be fine (maybe even better than fine). I like Lou as well. I don’t trust him in the playoffs, but he fills a role on this team if he’s willing to take a diminished role.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      No way. Trez has got to go. He’s a Klutch guy which is bad enough but he also already has bad blood with PG and he single handedly wrecked our post season. Get him the FOH!

      I also get the sense just from wathcing how they play together on the court that Kawhi does not have good chemistry with Trez or Lou. So, if Kawhi wants them gone it’s gonna happen.

    • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

      Accept a diminished role…? Committed to defense…? Lou fills a role on this team…?

      What are you talking about? They can’t get into their rhythm with limited minutes/roles/touches. And both players simply don’t know how to play defense and aren’t even interested in playing defense. They’re unplayable when every possession matters.

      “If they started to play harder, …. we gonna be scary!!!” logic doesn’t work.

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    If anyone ever says that a new coach can unlock Trez’s potential or find a way to play Lou effectively, they’re just fuckin stupid. We HAVE TO move on Trez and Lou.

    They just simply don’t have the size, BBIQ and defensive mind set to compete in the Playoffs. Unskilled & undersized center who doesn’t even know how to play defense is unplayable in the Playoffs. Tiny guards always get exposed in the Playoffs.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      YES!… THANK YOU!

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      I agree on Trez, but Lou, as horrible as he shot, was still a net positive in the postseason. Unless Jerry West pulls a Muscala-for-Zubac type of miracle, I’m totally fine hanging onto Lou. He gets hunted during the postseason yea, but a better coach should be able to adjust the scheme to account for that – at least better than Doc did.

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    Really not sure who is out there. Of the retreads, MDA is actually an intriguing name to me. I would love to see him paired with Nate McMillan, who they’ve coached together on Team USA. I think this team could play his style, especially if Zu has been working on his 3-ball. Between especially JMG and Morris, the Clips have some decent size out there but can still play the 5-out style. And with Pat Bev and Kawhi’s rebounding ability, I don’t think they’d get killed if they went small.

    But as scary as it might be, at this point, and unknown tactician type of coach like Dan Craig might be preferable to another retread, given the retread names out there aren’t very inspiring.

  • Avatar Thretch says:

    Glad the Ballmer set the bar high enough … such that Rivers did not meet it. Tough decision to make as an executive.

    • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

      For sure it was and good sign that they aren’t afraid to make tough moves.

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      really really surprised it happened. Especially in this social climate, letting go of a huge voice in the movement must have been a incredibly hard decision. I really wouldn’t have minded Doc being in some like new “social relations” position within the Clippers front office, but I just don’t think you can have him do that on the sidelines while another guy is coaching the team. I actually hope he takes like a role with like the player’s association rather than another coaching gig.

      • Avatar chogokin says:

        I think they probably offered him a position but he wanted to continue coaching – can’t be “media relations” for the Clips while simultaneously coaching the Sixers -_-

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Any thoughts on Juwan Howard?

    • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

      Unfair he got that big contract and never lived up to it besides being a solid vet. He managed to graduate on-time despite going pro early. Thanks, Wikipedia!

      • Avatar chogokin says:

        Lol – thoughts as a coaching candidate, obviously. He spent a lot of time on the Heat bench as an assistant….

    • Avatar Labis says:

      He is coaching at Michigan and told before that he is not available.

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    outside the box idea: Natalie Nakase for head coach!

  • Avatar KingAlfonse says:

    throw the bag at nick nurse

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      Dave Joerger was Nick Nurse before Nick Nurse was Nick Nurse. Only reason that name intrigues me. I don’t hold anything about his Kings tenure against him, and he had some pretty good success with the Grizzlies. I get it’s not an exciting hire given we’ve kind of seen what he can bring in the NBA already, but I am at least a little curious what he would do with like a more talented roster.

    • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

      tons of like for Nurse; loved the way he injected himself in one corner play and confused jason tatum into a turnover; there’s an example of a “hands on” coach

  • Avatar Killaclip says:

    One thing I don’t like is this narrative that Doc saved us from being constant losers. VDN wasn’t the best coach and had issues with making things personal and didn’t know how the political game and I don’t miss him at all.

    Acting like we were some bums before Doc when VDN had a 40-26 (shortened season) and 56-26 record after we got Chris Paul which ties with our second best regulars season record with Doc have one 57 and one 56 and going down after that point.

    Let’s give more credit to the players because their ceiling didn’t raise with Doc.

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      the eye test between how the team played under Doc vs. VDN was vast. VDN was happy just letting CP dribble the ball and run high pick & roll with absolutely no ball movement.

      Yes, the results ended up being similar, but the product on the court was very very different. When Doc came, I think he was probably the best coach in Clipper’s history. Unfortunately, I think just many coaches have passed him on the list since then.

      • Avatar Killaclip says:

        Wait so you are telling me this same system with Chris Paul over dribbling and guys standing around not doing anything didn’t translate to the Doc era? It looked the case in the Houston and Nuggets 3-1 blowout and Game 6 vs OKC looks awfully familiar to game 7 vs Nuggets when the team starts off hot and starts to wind down and not have anything to fall back on. So the lead slips and rather than a back and forth one team seems to jog to the finish line. So that’s 2 CP3 years with VDN and 2 years with Doc in which system breakdown occurs.

        In more painful realization for Doc is VDN has the broken bodies of Caron Butler, 80 year old Chauncey Billups and Randy Foye.

        As the case with Chris Paul when we had a floor general this team struggled with the same issues of not have a sure fire system of direction to fall back on. Like then and now and Vinny a lot of the tide of the game was having the stars pound the ball and hope for the best instead of adjustments

      • Avatar Killaclip says:

        Think a lot of it was perception vs reality because I listened to the podcast and it seemed like we were coming out of the lottery when Doc joined the team. It simply wasn’t the case and any boost of perception of just having Doc was killed by him getting absolute power and becoming the terrible GM he was for years before being fired from that job

        • Avatar osamu6238 says:

          I don’t think it was just perception, although a lot of it could be attributable to JJ Redick joining the team. Having that guy in the Ray Allen mold playing off the ball was just such a different sight than anyone who came before him on the Clips. There was definitely still a lot of pick & roll, but also a lot more DHOs and movement off ball.

          100% agree than Doc’s worst enemy was Doc the GM. I was calling for Doc to lose that position like the year after he got it. He was an abject failure as a GM. Like bottom 5 GM in the league bad.

          • Avatar Killaclip says:

            Even that started to break down some because when JJ went cold he went ice cold and there was little that could snap him out of it. Then we fall back on Jamal hero ball and it’s another guy dribbling the air out of the ball in isolation hoping to hit a shot. Watched a lot of old footage from the playoffs and my goodness when the wheels came off for the doc teams we never had a stop the bleeding game even if having some injuries

            OKC-lose game 5 and 6
            Houston-lose three straight
            Denver-Lose three straight
            Portland-lose 4 straight

            Credit for the Utah series we showed heart while injured but that turned out to be a end of a era series

          • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

            Have a really hard time holding Portland against Doc. Chris and Blake were both out, and that team did have some heart–remember Austin playing with stitches in his eyebrow?

            But the other three, yup, the wheels came off. This year was worst of all because it wasn’t individual choking against a better team (CP3 against OKC) or totally unpredictable randomness (Brewer and Smith hitting threes for Houston), but inept coaching that didn’t make simple and obvious adjustments. If not for limiting Zubac’s second-half minutes and leaving Trez out for 4 extra late 3rd/early 4th minutes against Jokic in game 5, the Clippers win that series in 5 and are in the WCF.

          • Avatar osamu6238 says:

            There’s no doubt that Doc’s playoff adjustments left a lot to be desired, but I was speaking more on the team’s play overall in comparison to VDN. During the 82 game regular season, to me there’s no doubt this team got better with Doc in the helm over VDN. If you just are talking the relatively small sample size of the playoffs, I can see that. Things definitely didn’t run as smoothly for Doc in the playoffs. What was once a much more beautiful ball movement system in the regular season became pretty stagnant and VDN-esque for Doc in the playoffs.

      • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

        “VDN was happy just letting CP dribble the ball and run high pick & roll with absolutely no ball movement.”

        So was Doc. Neither of them had anything resembling a system on either side of the court.

        The only real difference is that VDN made at least one adjustment that I can remember in a playoff series (riding the bench in Game 7 against Memphis instead of sticking with the usual rotations). Doc never made a single adjustment his entire time here. The only times anything ever changed were when the front office forced the issue with roster moves, and even then, Doc would just find another way to screw it up.

  • Avatar Killaclip says:

    Not sure if Doc did anything that VDN didn’t do. We beat Memphis in a comeback 7 and then swept by the Spurs. Following year we were up 2-0 and got a gentleman sweet and Blake was injured by game 4.

    This is all while having 80 year old Chauncey Billiups as our starting SG

  • Avatar Killaclip says:

    Welp brighter days ahead

  • Avatar World B. We says:

    Ballmer is going to do something gigantic. I think It’s Pop. I think Kawhi knows he screwed us with the forced George trade, and he’s going to make it up to us by burying the axe with the greatest coach of all time. Pop’s contract is year by year, I think.

    • Avatar World B. We says:

      Imagine that announcement a day after the Lakers (hopefully not🙏 go Heat!) win the championship. A lil piss on the campfire I’d say

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      that would be amazing, and half of me doesn’t think they’d let Doc go, unless they had a very clear idea of a replacement. This would be like the dream scenario.

      but I would bet everything I have that Pop would not do that do the Spurs.

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      A part of me also feels like the Clips wanted this to make headlines and wanted this to be a big story. If they wanted to fire Doc quietly, they could’ve done it on Saturday or Sunday when half the media is off and the other half is focused on football. The fact that this was announced Monday morning, makes me feel like they a little wanted to make some waves, weren’t afraid of any backlash from letting go of the figurehead of this franchise, and maybe they really do have something big planned.

  • Avatar dhpat says:

    I’m hoping that we get a new young coach that can keep our team adjusting. However, with Doc out, it is part of a first step towards picking up the pieces. Lots of personnel issues to figure out. The players are going to be in shock.

    • Avatar World B. We says:

      Hopefully the first thing that goes in the trash bin is the, “we’ve won a championship” attitude with no collective rings to show for it. What the fuck were they doing mocking a player as deadly as Dame? The basketball gods zapped PG’s shooting stroke after that disrespect

  • Avatar World B. We says:

    Pop by the way treats all players equally. None of Doc’s chemistry crushing favoritism bull pooder

  • Avatar Eshaan K. says:

    What are people’s thoughts on Adrian Griffin? In my opinion one of the best assistants in the league. #2 under nick nurse, one of the guys getting OG and Chris Boucher to playoff starters

  • Avatar Oodypkt says:

    In a weird way, I would like Frank to coach.
    https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/la-sp-clippers-nba-draft-20190621-story.html
    “I’m a pretty simple guy,” the Clippers’ president of basketball operations said. “You get some hard-playing, tough dudes and you become a hard-playing, tough team.”
    He has built this team. He knows how to get them to play the best of their role.
    https://www.sbsun.com/2017/10/17/q-a-with-lawrence-frank-clippers-president-of-basketball-operations/
    “I always loved basketball. As much as I loved playing, I also loved the teaching behind the game, the psychology behind the game, the team-building behind the game, the relationship with players though the game. So, for me, when I was a teenager, I always knew I wanted to coach.”
    “The No. 1 thing you learn is humility because it’s like the military being a manager there. You enter at the lowest level and you’re going to have the most menial tasks and you’re expected to execute it with unbelievable attention to detail. So, I would say from work-ethic, trustworthiness, humility, reliability, like, those were all things I learned from my father growing up and then going to Coach Knight, from a basketball sense, all those lessons were reinforced.”

    It’s long shot and if it’s not him, I hope we can find the right coach who is as passionate for the job as him.

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    Haven’t heard this thrown out, but the guest on Jovan’s podcast threw out Stan Van Gundy as a name that would be a possible candidate. I’m actually Ok with SVG as he is a more modern coach and embraced the 4-out team in Orlando. I more or less ignore his time in Detroit because he had a really flawed roster and was also doing the dual GM/Coach duties.

    • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

      Ron, I mean, SVG, feels kinda like a retread despite his Orlando success. Detroit was 1/3 his pro coaching career and can’t be ignored.