Sources of The Ringer’s Ryen Russilo tell him Doc Rivers was taken by surprise by the Clippers’ front office decision to hand him the sack.
The Clippers finished second in the Conference standings with a 49-23 record. They were widely expected to meet the Lakers in the Conference Finals.
A number of people even expected them to beat the Lakers at that stage and make their first NBA Finals as a franchise. As things turned out, they blew a 3-1 series lead in the Conference semifinals to the unfancied Denver Nuggets.
‘Kawhi Leonard not a leader, Paul George wasn’t respected: Doc Rivers’s firing reveals
One would have to be a heavily optimistic Clippers fan to believe the team wasn’t heading for any changes.
The manner in which they blew the 3-1 lead, capitulating in 3 straight second halves, meant that a fall guy was sure to be trumped up. As things transpired, it was the easiest person to blame who took it – the head coach.
According to the report by Russillo, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were also part of the locker room fallout. PG13 wasn’t respected by his teammates and Kawhi Leonard could never be the leader his teammates wanted him to be.
This surprised Doc. From what I’m told he thought he was ok. But this locker room was an even bigger mess than I think we realized. Kawhi has never had to be a vocal leader and PG doesn’t have the respect of his teammates.
— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) September 28, 2020
There is little doubt that Rivers’ players failed him in executing their game plan. But one could see throughout the series that Rivers failed to adapt to the Nuggets’ tactical changes.
His rotations stayed stagnant and he seemed loath to play JaMychal Green, who was a better matchup for Jokic than the undersized Harrell. Reports of favoritism within the locker room have also emerged after the Clippers’ knockout.
Doc Rivers will surely be scooped up by another title-chasing team. But who will the Clippers replace him with?