The Los Angeles Clippers have locked up their Team President and Head Coach Doc Rivers up for the next five years with a massive 50 million dollar contract extension. New team owner Steve Ballmer wanted to make sure to this got done quickly after his purchase of the team, as he looks for the former Celtics coach to be a part of the organization long-term.
In his first year with the Clippers, Rivers was able to guide them to a 57-25 regular season record and a second round playoff exit, where they lost in six games to the Oklahoma City Thunder. 57 regular season wins was the most ever in the franchise’s history and Rivers will look to build upon that success and move ahead into a possible one or two seed come playoff time. He certainly has the pieces to do so, with the likes of All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, along with DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford.
Even with all the success, the 2013-14 season was an extremely tumultuous one for the Clippers organization. Not only did the Donald Sterling racism saga rock the league, but the news also broke at the worst possible time during the season. Many thought LA had a chance to be a sleeper candidate to come out of the Western Conference, but the distraction the Sterling saga brought made that nearly impossible.
The news of Sterling’s racist comments broke during the team’s first round playoff matchup with a very tough Golden State Warriors team. Players threatened to not play for then-owner Donald Sterling, and Doc Rivers had a potential mutiny on his hands in only his first year with the team. Things could have escalated and taken a turn for the worse, but Rivers did an excellent job of letting the players know that they were playing for each other and not Sterling. Rivers handled an incredibly delicate situation with amazing poise. Not every coach would have had the ability to handle the situation so gracefully, and that definitely played a part in new owner Steve Ballmer decision to extend Rivers long-term.
After getting out from under the dark cloud of the Sterling family, and with new owner Steve Ballmer showing his commitment, it should be smooth sailing for the Clippers from an organizational standpoint. Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has long wanted to be an owner in the NBA, which he showed by outbidding all other comers with a 2 billion dollar offer. He has now locked down his coach and team president for the next five years to a massive deal, and even completed the first trade of his ownership. Along with news of Rivers’ extension, it was also reported that the team had acquired Miroslav Raduljica, Carlos Delfino, and a second round pick from the Bucks in exchange for Jared Dudley and a future first round pick.
Now, with his place as the Clippers Team President and Head Coach secured for the next five years, Doc Rivers will look to improve upon last year’s successful season. He has no shortage of talent at his disposal with the likes of Paul, Griffin, Jordan, Crawford, JJ Redick and new incoming big man Spencer Hawes, who will add needed depth in the front court. Blake Griffin improved a great deal last season and, with another season under the tutelage of Rivers, he and the rest of the team should be even better this season.
Doc Rivers is one of only four current NBA coaches to have won a championship, so locking him down to a massive 50 million dollar deal was a smart move for the Clippers. With Donald Sterling now out of the picture in Los Angeles, it could be just the start of many more smart moves to come, as the future looks bright for the team.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius