NBA rumors: Top candidates to replace Doc Rivers as Clippers’ head coach

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers during NBA Playoffs against the Nuggets
Sep 11, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the second half of game five against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In absolutely shocking fashion, the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday fired longtime head coach Doc Rivers after seven seasons in that role. This move comes shortly after Los Angeles was defeated in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs by the Denver Nuggets.

Los Angeles headed into the 2019-20 season as a legitimate NBA title candidate after adding reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and star forward Paul George to the mix. Things did not go according to plan.

Both Leonard and George dealt with injuries throughout the regular season before it was suspended back in March. For his part, George never got it going once the playoffs started (40% shooting from the field).

Rivers’ tenure in Southern California ends with him having posted a 356-208 record en route to leading Los Angeles to six playoff appearances in seven seasons. Unfortunately, the team never advanced past the second round during that span.

Who might be the Clippers next head coach after Doc Rivers was fired?

  • There’s some major factors to look at here. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is the richest figure at his position in the NBA. Since taking over that role in Los Angeles from the disgraced Donald Sterling, Ballmer has made it clear that spending money is no issue.
  • Add in the fact that these Clippers exist in the second-largest media market in North America and boast two true star players, they automatically become one of the most attractive head-coaching openings in some time.
  • With all of that in mind, the expectation here is that Los Angeles will look for big-name head coaches capable of handling the stress that comes with playing alongside LeBron James and the Lakers.

Candidates to replace Doc Rivers as Clippers’ head coach

Tyronn Lue, Los Angeles Clippers assistant

It’s just a matter of time before the 43-year-old Lue lands another head-coaching job after an extremely successful stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Los Angeles Clippers current assistant boasted a 211-128 record in Cleveland, leading the team to the NBA Finals each of the three full seasons he manned the bench.

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Lue has a history of working with big time stars. Namely, one LeBron James. He would make sense for the Clippers given the presence of both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

Mark Jackson, former Golden State Warriors head coach

This is something that has been talked about a lot in recent years. Why hasn’t Jackson gotten more play as a potential candidate after leading the previously downtrodden Warriors to a 98-66 record in his final two seasons with the organization?

There’s some hubbub in NBA circles that suggests Jackson has been blackballed. That could very well have to do with his religious beliefs and how they seem to counter the NBA’s current progressive approach. Either way, Jackson has the experience and previous success to be mentioned here. He also worked with star players in that of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson with the Warriors.

Mike D’Antoni, former Houston Rockets head coach

After opting to part ways with the Rockets following an early playoff exit earlier this fall, D’Antoni has been bandied about as the top candidate to replace Brett Brown as the Philadelphia 76ers head coach.

That might very well be true. However, a surprise opening of this ilk could force this widely respected D’Antoni to think twice about that. The only issue here is that D’Antoni’s two-year run as the Lakers’ head coach in Southern California was downright disastrous.

Related: Top candidates to become Sixers’ new head coach

Jason Kidd, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach

In his first season as the Lakers’ head coach, Kidd has other things on his mind right now with the organization heading to the NBA Finals. However, if the Clippers were to remain patient here, he could make some sense.

Embattled during his tenure as the Nets and Bucks’ head coach, Kidd still led the two teams to three playoff appearances in five seasons. He’s seen as a player-friendly coach, something that could work well with George and Leonard. It’s also important to note that Kidd is not afraid of the bright lights given his Hall of Fame performance as a player. Just some food for thought.

Clippers’ process to replace Doc Rivers

We’re highly unlikely to hear a top candidate come through and be linked to the Clippers job immediately. This is going to be a process. And in reality, it will impact Los Angeles’ ability to be a top-end title contender moving forward.

As we saw with the Nets’ shocking decision to hire Steve Nash, Clippers stars will obviously have a say here. Both George and Leonard can opt out of their contracts after the 2020-21 season. Rightfully, both should have a say in who the Clippers’ new head coach is. That will play a role here.