Clippers’ Doc Rivers firmly on the hot seat

By Vincent Frank

Following their ninth consecutive loss, the Los Angeles Clippers are mired in bottom-feeding status in a top-heavy Western Confernece.

Their latest loss came against a weaker New York Knicks opponent in Madison Square Garden on Monday night. It’s a game that saw Los Angeles trail by 15 heading into the fourth quarter before New York blew it open, eventually winning by 22.

There’s now some questions about head coach Doc Rivers and his long-term status on the bench in Los Angeles.

When a team loses nine consecutive games by an average of nearly 10 points per outing, the head coach is going to get a lot of criticism.

For Rivers, this is magnified a bit more. He was stripped of his general manager duties during the summer after failing to lead the Clippers out of the second round of the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season to start his tenure in Southern California.

Rivers’ player personnel decisions have been an issue in the past. The hope here was that he’d have more success on the court by solely focusing on coaching. Through the first month-plus of the season, that simply has not happened.

No one really expected Los Angeles to contend for a conference title out west after losing the likes of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford during the offseason. But the acquisitions of Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverly gave the team hope that it could remain competitive.

As both Gallinari and Beverly continue to deal with early-season injuries, the Clippers’ lack of depth has come home to roost. That’s as much on Rivers as any other member of the organization.

We might be talking about a successful head coach that’s led his teams to the playoffs in each of his past 10 seasons. But recency bias also tells us a story of a Clippers organization that simply doesn’t believe Rivers is the man to lead the organization moving forward.

Rivers’ previously reported flirtation with a potential return to the Orlando Magic magnifies this further. That’s taken to a whole new level by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer seriously contemplating firing Rivers prior to the start of the 2017-18 season.

At some point, it’s going to be obvious that both the Clippers and Rivers are better off parting ways. Whether that comes in-season remains to be seen. But the tea leaves are blowing, and not in the favor of the head coach.