A season which started with so much promise is quickly going south for the Los Angeles Clippers. After a torrid 14-2 start, they’ve gone just 27-27 since and now face the prospect of falling all the way down to sixth – or even seventh – in the Western Conference. Three of their Big 4 – Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and J.J. Redick – are all free agents in the summer, and another (likely) early playoff exit could play a significant factor in whether they decide to commit to LA long-term in order to keep the core together.
But apart from key players possibly going, head coach Doc Rivers could also be on the move. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, there have been recent rumblings regarding a Doc Rivers-Orlando Magic reunion “down the road.” That phrase – down the road – is very much open to interpretation at this point, but with the Clippers’ and Magic’s current situations, there is a strong possibility a move could be made sooner rather than later.
Aside from being the Clippers’ head coach, Rivers is also the team’s president of basketball operations. It remains to be seen exactly what role the Magic have planned for him, but with Frank Vogel in the first year of a five-year deal, Rivers might just be brought in solely to fill a front-office job. He would likely replace the ineffectoven Rob Hennigan, who has orchestrated an unfruitful rebuilding project over the past five years in Orlando.
Time for a change in Clipperland
The four years of the Doc Rivers era in LA have been good ones. They won a lot of games and were rightly regarded as one of the elite teams in the league. But based on their talent and expectations, failing to get past the second round of the playoffs – even with some very unlucky injuries – is still a major disappointment.
Rivers’ role as president of basketball ops has arguably been the more damaging part of his tenure. He’s consistently failed to surround Griffin, Paul, and Jordan with above-average talent on the wings apart from Redick, and has often resorted to bringing in players who have either played well for/against him in the past. That spotty track record will have to be something the Magic have to take into account if they actually do want to bring him into their front office.
Given how this current season is unfolding, this Clippers team may finally be stagnating to the point where changes have to be made at the coaching level as well. J.J. Redick has hinted as much with his recent pointed comments about the team’s current struggles. With the Clippers limping into the playoffs and facing another early exit in the face, a divorce from Doc – whether forced or voluntary – might be the best for both parties moving forward.