Doc Rivers is still the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, but that is now the only title he holds with the organization. Rivers has been stripped of his role in the front office, according to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Woj report that came out on Friday has a pretty credible source, too: Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who spoke directly to ESPN about the state of the franchise and how Rivers’ role will change with the team as they retool the front office.
LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is returning Doc Rivers to the primary duty of head coach, freeing him of front office responsibilities, the owner told ESPN on Friday.
Rivers, who held the title of president of basketball operations, will continue to have a strong voice in personnel and organizational matters and will partner with Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, Ballmer told ESPN. Frank will now oversee basketball operations, including the general manager.
Frank and Rivers will reportedly both report to Ballmer, while Frank sees an increased role in the franchise’s decision-making. Clippers public relations confirmed the report shortly after ESPN published it, thought their PR Twitter account is locked and only accessable by media members. Either way, Doc is officially just the coach in LA.
This move really does mean the end is near for GM/coaching positions in the NBA. Ballmer makes that point clear in his quotes to ESPN, describing how he’s learned over the years how an organization needs to be run and stating that it’s a “different relationship” a player needs to have with the coach compared to the general manager.
“I’ve owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner’s responsibility is — and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs,” Ballmer told ESPN. “The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn’t the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent minded people.”
With the way the Chris Paul saga ended and all the talk about Rivers’ relationship with his players and his son, it’s clear Doc is better appreciated as a head coach and not as a person in charge of managing players as a GM. Many of his now former players, it seems, would certainly seem to agree.
One thing Ballmer notes is that the Clippers will be a big project for any coach this year, especially after the Chris Paul trade brought in nine new players. That could be a clever way of saying Doc will have his plate full this year, or it’s an ultimatum: figure it out on the floor or you’ll be replaced altogether.
“Doc has won a championship, one of only a few coaches in the league to do so,” Ballmer told ESPN. “Two-thirds of our lineup will be new, and there’s a huge job to bring everybody along to fit together.”
Either way, it’s going to be an interesting season for Rivers in Los Angeles.