Doc Rivers Coaching Results Of The Depleted Los Angeles Clippers Franchise Was A Thing Of Beauty, And Clippers coach, Doc Rivers signs long-term contract extension

Doc Rivers Coaching Results Of The Depleted Los Angeles Clippers Franchise Was A Thing Of Beauty, And Clippers coach,  Doc Rivers signs long-term contract extension
CAPTION: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 03: Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers speaks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 during the first half against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on April 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers speaks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 during the first half against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on April 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
During his first five seasons in Los Angeles, coach Doc Rivers’ Clippers teams were regularly star-studded but rarely beloved. The rosters produced a mix of great highlights and grating reviews.

 
So it was with some surprise Saturday morning that Rivers awoke to a text message from a fellow NBA head coach lamenting the end of the Clippers’ season.

“I’ve never had a message like the one I got,” Rivers said Saturday, less than 12 hours after Golden State eliminated the Clippers in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series. “He said, ‘Last night was my saddest night of the season.’

“And I’m like, what the heck?”

If Rivers had become conditioned to criticism following the underachieving “Lob City” era, he spent this latest season hearing near-universal praise from peers across the league. A team featuring zero All-Stars won 48 games behind an uncommonly resilient roster that made no apologies for its gritty style. Rivers, who earned consideration for coach of the year, called the season the proudest of his career.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr commended the Clippers’ “beautiful basketball” following the series-clinching win at Staples Center. One unnamed playoff coach texted Rivers directly.

“He was like, ‘Because I watch you guys play every game and it gave me such basketball enjoyment, not only how hard you played, but the way you played,” Rivers said. “I was like, wow, this is impressive.”

Just as impressive would be recreating that hard-nosed, tight-knit style next season amid a roster that will doubtless feature several new faces given the team’s eight free agents. The Clippers can clear enough salary cap room to sign two free agents to maximum contracts this summer.

They hope to transform from a team no one saw making the playoffs into a Western Conference favorite overnight. In the process they also hope to retain the DNA from this team, with its mix of veterans, including Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, and young players such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet and Montrezl Harrell.

“Hopefully we changed the culture of the NBA,” Beverley said. “It’s OK to be high maintenance and everything. That doesn’t mean you have to be. You can be a blue-collar worker and still be successful.”

The fact that the identity remained the same despite massive roster turnover at February’s trade deadline gives Rivers confidence it can be replicated.

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“We have the right culture to build what we want,” Rivers said. “That was the test actually, and we passed that test already.”

After Boston won the NBA championship in 2008, Rivers stayed in his office rather than bask in the moment in a victorious locker room, and he has said since that he regrets not savoring the moment more. Within hours, he was at a convenience store grocery shopping for the next morning’s breakfast. His assumption, he has said, was that more moments like that were coming.

The experience made him appreciate this season more in the moment.

“I think I enjoyed it a bit more,” Rivers said.

After the Clippers clinched a playoff berth in Minnesota on March 26, he handed a champagne bottle to Gallinari and raised his arms in triumph as the forward, who enjoyed a career-best season, soaked in the locker room.

Said Gallinari: “You could see that it was a very good moment for everybody from Doc, to the players, to the coaches, to everybody.”

Should the Clippers land marquee free agents such as Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant (or both), the Clippers’ goal is to hoist champagne bottles in June, not March. Titles are the inarguable standard of a team’s success and the Clippers want to be in contention as soon as possible. The team also boasts a number of attractive assets for a blockbuster trade should New Orleans’ Anthony Davis be on the market again.

“It’s going to be a very important summer,” Gallinari said.

But along with banners, Rivers measures his teams’ successes or failures using a different, more personal gauge — how much he likes to go to work. He often said he “raced” to make his commute this season.

It’s why his drive to the team’s practice facility Saturday morning was bittersweet.

“When you are knocked out of the playoffs there’s obviously some times it’s a relief,” Rivers said. “And there are some times you just don’t want it to happen and last night was one of those points. Just the sense of disappointment — even though you know the group you had overachieved, you still don’t want it to end.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers signs long-term contract extension
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Clippers coach Doc Rivers has officially signed his contract extension to remain with the team long term, he told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday. 

News of the extension’s existence first became public in March after Rivers shot down rumors that he and the Lakers had mutual interest in one another by announcing, unprompted, that he had agreed to an extension with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer earlier in the season.

Rivers joined the Clippers in June of 2013. During his six seasons with the franchise thus far, he has compiled a 307-185 record and made the postseason five times.

“I’m going nowhere,” Rivers said March 19. “I can tell you that straight and up front. I’m going to be here until Steve [Ballmer] says ‘Get out.’”

The Lakers speculation began in part because Rivers, who had already agreed one year ago to an extension that ran the 2020-21 season, could opt out of his contract after this season.

Rivers didn’t disclose the length of his new, long-term extension Saturday, but said he has signed the contract. It follows a season in which the Clippers, picked by some oddsmakers to win 35 games, finished with 48 victories and took their first-round playoff series against top-seeded Golden State to six games.

After Friday’s season-ending loss to the Warriors, Rivers said he’d “never been more proud of a group of guys in the 20 years that I’ve coached.”

“As I’ve said before, I’ve never had a group where you wanted to, in the morning, you raced to the car, you raced to practice just because you love being around them,” Rivers said. “So for me, it was just a pleasure to coach them.”

The Clippers are expected to be in play as a potential destination for some top-tier free agents over the offseason, as they have ample cap space to pair with an intriguing, competitive core comprised of veterans Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley. Having a well-respected coach like Rivers locked up long-term should only help their cause when it comes to attracting talent. 

MORE ON DOC RIVERS,

Glenn Anton “Doc” Rivers (born October 13, 1961) is an American basketball coach and former player who is the head coach for the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). As an NBA point guard, Rivers was known for his defense, a trait that has carried over into his coaching.

Rivers was a McDonald’s All-American for Proviso East High School in the Chicago metropolitan area.[1] Rivers represented the United States with the national team in the 1982 FIBA World Championship, in which he led the team to the silver medal, despite missing the last shot in the final, which could have given the title to his team. After his third season at Marquette University, Rivers was drafted in the second round (31st overall) of the 1983 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He graduated from Marquette while completing course work as an NBA player. He spent the next seven seasons as a starter in Atlanta, assisting star Dominique Wilkins as the team found great regular-season success. He averaged a double-double for the 1986–87 season with 12.8 points and 10.0 assists per game. Rivers later spent one year as a starter for the Los Angeles Clippers and two more for the New York Knicks, before finishing his career as a player for the San Antonio Spurs from 1994 to 1996.

After spending a year working as a commentator for the NBA on ABC (calling the 2004 Finals with Al Michaels), he was hired by the Boston Celtics as their head coach in 2004. During his first years with the Celtics, he was criticized by many in the media for his coaching style, most vociferously by Bill Simmons, who in 2006 publicly called for Rivers to be fired in his columns.

As a result of the Celtics’ 109–93 victory over the New York Knicks on January 21, 2008, Rivers, as the coach of the team with the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, earned the honor to coach the East for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. On June 17, 2008, Rivers won his first NBA Championship as a head coach after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. The Celtics needed an NBA record 26 post-season games to win it. Rivers played for the team that held the previous record for most games played in a single post-season: the 1994 New York Knicks played 25 post-season games.

Rivers led the Celtics to the 2010 NBA Finals where they once again faced the Los Angeles Lakers and lost the series in seven games.

After deliberating between staying on the job and leaving the job and returning to spend more time with his family in Orlando, Rivers finally decided that he would honor the last year of his contract and return for the 2010–11 season.

On May 13, 2011, after months of rumors that he would retire, ESPN reported that the Celtics and Rivers agreed upon a 5-year contract extension worth $35 million.

On February 6, 2013, Rivers notched his 400th win with the Celtics in a 99–95 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Rivers is the nephew of former NBA player Jim Brewer. He lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife Kristen; they have four children. His oldest son Jeremiah played basketball at Georgetown University and Indiana University, and has played in the NBA D-League for the Maine Red Claws. His daughter Callie played volleyball for the University of Florida and then played professionally in Puerto Rico, while his second-born son Austin played one year as a guard for Duke University before being drafted by the New Orleans Hornets with the 10th pick of the 2012 NBA draft, and joined his father on the Clippers in 2015. His youngest son, Spencer, is a guard who played for Winter Park High School and for UC Irvine.

Rivers is a cousin of former NBA guard Byron Irvin and former MLB outfielder Ken Singleton.

Rivers was given his nickname of “Doc” by then-Marquette assistant coach Rick Majerus. Rivers attended a summer basketball camp wearing a “Dr. J” T-shirt. Majerus immediately called him “Doc” and the players at camp followed suit. The name has stuck ever since.

Rivers is also currently a member of the National Advisory Board for Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit organization that helps student-athletes and their coaches. Rivers has appeared in several videos for this organization, all of which can be found on the group’s YouTube channel.

 

 

 

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