The Clippers couldn’t have their KG and Rivers too, so they chose the coach. They rocked with stability and an ageless position over a deteriorating star looking to piggyback one more title before he gets put out to pasture.
The end of the world must really be upon us if the Clippers, and owner Donald Sterling , are making shrewd decisions. They made (dare I say it?) a brilliant basketball move by trading a 2015 first-round pick for former Celtics coach Doc Rivers , just two seasons after a blockbuster trade for Chris Paul initiated the franchise’s cultural transformation.
The move is super-live like Mark Messier to the Rangers and Joe Montana to the Chiefs. It changes everything for the Clippers, who would have been considered no more than lukewarm contenders to Miami’s throne entering next season.
Rivers is a big name with a dope coaching game. He’s on a very short list of game-changing NBA sideline stalkers. The NBA coaching carousel is unforgiving and in constant motion. Guys like “Pop” and Phil “Zen Master” Jackson don’t come around often.
Rivers is in that mold. He’s just younger, better looking, all of his sons can hoop and he proved during his nine-year run in Boston that he was thorough like Chuck Scarborough. Rivers has the coaching game on smash – X’s & O’s, defensive philosophy, motivational tactics … All that.
The deal should actually be described as a swap of first-round draft choices because gaining an ill basketball mind and true trench commander like Rivers is akin to hitting the draft lottery. If they can eventually swing Kevin Garnett, who would surely get it up for one more run at the glistening globe, then the ’13-’14 season has major Clippers come-up written all over it.
Rivers might even be underrated. Sure Popovich and his four titles puts him at the top of the food chain of active NBA coaches, but some people feel Doc, 51, is in the same class and will prove it by the time he hangs up his clipboard.
The last time a coach with a ring went to a new team was Larry Brown in Charlotte in 2008. The last time a coach with a ring left the team with whom he won the title to take a different job was also Brown, in 2005, when he went from Detroit to New York.
Expect better results from Doc.
If Rivers can win a second title with a completely different team – something Pop has never done – he’d have to be considered Pop’s equal.
Not taking anything from Pop, who has hand-crafted a clock-work Dynasty during his 17 years with the Spurs organization, but David Robinson, and then San Antonio’s Big Three, was with him every step of the way. He never left the stoop. The Spurs have a rare continuity that’s almost impossible to achieve in today’s “money-talks,” salary-capped, restrictive, free-agent climate.
Who knows how successful the ornery Pop would be, if he had to venture out and coach today’s ego-driven, temperamental superstars, instead of the old geezers he has.
Sure, Doc enjoyed a similar advantage with the Celtics once Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hooked up. He was supposed to win with three HOFers and a rising all-star point guard on the hardwood. But let’s not forget Rivers also masterfully dealt with massive egos, squabbles and power struggles, the usual detriments to maintaining a championship squad.
Rarely does a team get their hands on an official coaching “OG.” The type of cat nobody really hates on. They just suck their teeth and say, “Why Doc going to the Clippers for?”
Because the Clippers are finally getting greedy and Doc’s not finished making history.