The Los Angeles Clippers made some stunning news on Monday when it was announced that Doc Rivers was no longer going to be the head coach in L.A. after a disappointing second round exit from the playoffs.
The timing of the news seems to indicate that the Clippers are looking to ensure they get into the race for the top coaching candidates before the likes of the Sixers and Rockets fill their head coaching vacancies. One major reason for that is Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue is one of the top candidates for just about every available job at the moment, and his impending interview with the Sixers might have precipitated the Clippers moving quickly to part ways with Rivers.
Shortly after the news broke, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that Lue would indeed be a leading candidate, but that ESPN analyst and former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy would also be a seriously considered candidate.
Doc Rivers had two years left on his contract, sources tell ESPN. This is a challenging coaching search for Clippers, who are the ultimate win-now team. Among top candidates in the marketplace: Clippers assistant Ty Lue and former Rockets and Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. https://t.co/Ov02RYNbK9
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 28, 2020
Lue checks all of the boxes for the Clippers as a head coach with championship experience — and winning one with some forceful star personalities who didn’t always see eye-to-eye — and he’s familiar with the dynamic of the Clippers locker room. If anything, Lue not getting the job would seem more to be a matter of whether he, as someone who is extremely loyal to Doc, wants the job, but given there are so few jobs with legitimate title contenders that come open, it would be hard to see him turning it down.
As for Van Gundy, he has been getting some buzz in recent years in the coaching carousel not because of his work in the booth with ESPN, but because he’s done an excellent job as the head coach for USA Basketball in qualifying tournaments. It’ll be interesting to see who else the Clippers consider, as they have another assistant in Sam Cassell who has gotten consideration in Houston and Chauncey Billups, who does Clippers TV broadcasts, has made it clear he’s interested in coaching. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Billups join Lue’s staff if he were to take the job as a lead assistant as he looks to make the leap into the head coaching ranks.