The Los Angeles Clippers were supposed to be the prohibitive favorites to win the title last season. And they were, right up until they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals and cleared a path for their in-arena rivals to raise yet another championship banner inside their shared arena.
Doc Rivers, who spent seven seasons with the Clippers but had never made it to the conference finals, was the obvious fall guy. His ongoing inability to get them over the hump made his departure inevitable. But his absence doesn’t mean that everyone has quite moved on. Just this week on the All The Smoke podcast, Paul George complained that Rivers had misused last season.
He also criticized Rivers’ coaching and decision-making, particularly during the Denver series. Rivers has apparently heard that criticism, and in response, has reminded George that the person who’s currently filling his seat, new head coach Tyronn Lue, was right there on the sidelines with them and that George can likely expect more of the same next season.
“Hey, listen, I enjoyed coaching him,” Rivers said of George. “So not a lot to say there. Ty Lue was sitting right next to me. So he better hope it’s not adjustments. It ain’t going to be much different.”
Rivers chuckled while lightheartedly mentioning Lue, his close friend, before continuing by saying: “Listen, we lost the game, and I think everybody needs to take ownership. [Me] obviously. We can always do better. Players can play better. So as far as I’m concerned, I’ll leave it there.”
Rivers’ response also comes in the wake of a new report claiming that George’s own teammates were resentful of the preferential treatment he enjoyed last season despite the fact that, in their estimation, he’d done little to deserve it.
Lue, George, and the Clippers have plenty of work ahead to get on the same page if they want to contend this season, while Rivers faces a similar set of challenges in Philadelphia as he tries to get the Sixers to live up to their full potential.