The Los Angeles Clippers’ shocking decision to move on from longtime head coach Doc Rivers earlier this week could have some wide-ranging ramifications around the NBA world.
A highly successful coach during his time with the Celtics and Clippers, Rivers has already received interest from multiple teams with head-coaching vacancies.
As for the Clippers, it’s not yet known how wide of a net they will cast after a shocking conference semifinals loss to the Denver Nuggets. However, two big-name candidates have come up as options for owner Steve Ballmer and Co.
Tyronn Lue, Jeff Van Gundy among candidates to replace Doc Rivers with the Clippers
Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports that Lue, a current assistant with the Clippers, is being considered to replace Rivers. Buha also confirmed a previous report from ESPN that current analyst and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy is also a candidate.
Lue, 43, has heard his name bandied about a ton since the championship-winning head coach was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers early in the 2018-19 season. A veteran of 11 NBA seasons as a point guard, Lue led Cleveland to a 128-83 record and three consecutive NBA Finals appearances during his time with the organization. That included the Cavaliers’ first ever title back in 2015-16.
As for Van Gundy, he has not manned an NBA bench since all the way back in 2006-07. In 11 seasons with the Knicks and Rockets, the highly-respected former coach posted a 430-318 record and led his teams to nine playoff appearances.
Clippers under pressure after firing of Doc Rivers
It’s going to be extremely interesting to see how this thing plays out behind the scenes. Los Angeles is in full-scale win-now mode with star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George likely to hit free agency following the 2020-21 season.
Teammates were reportedly upset with how the two stars were treated this past season compared to other players on the Clippers’ roster. That was among the primary reasons Rivers was let go. This seems to suggest that neither Leonard nor George will have a lot of say as it relates to who the next head coach is. This isn’t necessarily the norm in today’s NBA. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets.
The Clippers posted a solid 49-23 record during a truncated regular season before being ousted in the second round of the playoffs after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets.