The Clippers and Rockets agreed to a blockbuster deal on Wednesday to send Chris Paul to Houston in exchange for a variety of current players and picks. The move stunned many around the league, but we’re beginning to find out more reported details as to why Paul wanted out of Los Angeles.
We’ve heard that the Clippers weren’t ready to commit a five-year, over $200 million max to the aging point guard, but there were internal factors that were driving Paul to want out of Los Angeles as well. According to ESPN’s Michael Eaves, a former local Clippers broadcaster, Paul had grown tired of Doc Rivers, specifically because of his son Austin.
In a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday, Eaves explained how Austin Rivers’ presence and Doc’s refusal to deal him, despite reportedly having the chance to land Carmelo Anthony last year near the deadline, angered Paul.
Paul’s relationship with Doc Rivers started to deteriorate rapidly after the Clippers acquired Austin Rivers. Several members of the team felt Austin acted entitled because his dad was both the coach and the President of Basketball Operations. In the view of the tenured players, Austin Rivers never tried to fit in, and when players tried to address the situation with him, he still did not respond the way the core of the team wanted him to.
But what really solidified Paul’s dissatisfaction with Doc was a proposed trade involving Carmelo Anthony last season. New York offered Carmelo and Sasha Vujacic to the Clippers in exchange for Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers, a deal to which Rivers ultimately said no. That event led Paul to feel that keeping his son on the roster was more important to Doc than improving the team. So, ultimately, Paul lost both trust and faith in Doc. As one league executive put it, “Chris despises Doc.”
The idea that Doc Rivers would refuse a trade that could’ve landed Anthony because he wanted to keep his son is somehow both surprising and not. It’s hard to imagine a father wanting to deal his son and not giving him some preferential treatment, but it’s also ridiculous that the president of an NBA team would refuse what on the surface appears to be a lopsided deal in the Clippers’ favor because he didn’t want to give up his son, who is a mediocre backup point guard.
Doc Rivers, the coach, is without a doubt one of the best in the business for what he’s done in Boston and L.A.. Doc Rivers, the president and GM, however, has been quite bad. This is just the latest example of that, and if this report is true, Rivers essentially ran a generational talent off his team because he wouldn’t treat his son like any other player in his capacity as president of the team.
This doesn’t come as that much of a surprise, considering what we’ve heard over the years about how the Clippers treated Austin and, most recently, Big Baby’s rant about the youngest Rivers.
Paul won’t have to worry about that now, though, as he’s with Daryl Morey and the Rockets, at least for next season. The Clippers, however, have some serious work to do to maintain their position as a playoff team. If not, a rebuild will have to begin and Steve Ballmer will have to decide if Rivers is the right man to oversee that.