Clippers’ Steve Ballmer sought ‘dramatic change’ after playoff letdown
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was understandably disappointed with how the team’s postseason run came to such a surprising end, and that led him to make the decision to part ways with longtime head coach Doc Rivers.
The Clippers were considered one of the favorites to reach the NBA Finals in the bubble but inexplicably blew a 3-1 series lead to the underdog Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals.
ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on the network’s “Get Up!” program Tuesday morning, and relayed what is believed to be Ballmer’s mindset in making a switch at head coach.
“Blowing a 3-1 lead to Denver in the conference semifinals,” Woj said. “Not as simple as that, but this is an owner, Steve Ballmer, this is a win-now team, certainly, with the Clippers. He was not willing to just run this thing back next year without some dramatic change, and that started with Doc Rivers yesterday.”
Ballmer, who also serves as the Clippers’ chairman, released a statement Monday announcing that the organization and Rivers “reached a mutual decision” to cut ties.
“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Ballmer said in the statement. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”
Rivers shared a statement of his own on Twitter following Monday’s announcement.
pic.twitter.com/UehImTaSnw— doc rivers (@DocRivers) September 28, 2020
The Clippers posted a 356-208 regular-season record across Rivers’ seven seasons, making him the most successful head coach in team history. The team crumbled in the postseason under Rivers, however, failing to boast a .500 record by going 27-32 in the playoffs.
It remains to be seen how the Clippers will approach their coaching search, but some big names have already surfaced, including former NBA head coaches Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy, per Wojnarowski. Lue of course served as Rivers’ top assistant this season and is believed to be the favorite to land the job at this point.
It goes without saying that whoever gets the job will immediately be under enormous pressure, as the Clippers are without question in win-now mode with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George headlining a talented roster.