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Los Angeles Clippers: How Does Doc Rivers Still Have A Job?

What have you done for me lately? It’s time for Los Angeles Clippers GM Dave Wohl to pull Doc Rivers to the side and ask him that question.

Rivers has had his chances to succeed but has failed miserably since arriving in Los Angeles. He has won 181 (including playoffs) games in his three seasons as head man but regular season success doesn’t count or Dave Blatt will still have a job, right?

Rivers was given the keys to one of the best lineups in the NBA with star players such as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. He has guided them to the playoffs each season but has never made it past the Western Conference Semifinals.

But yet Blatt was giving his walking papers first.

Go figure.

How does a team led by three of the best players at their position continue to falter season after season and no one points the finger at the man in charge?

When he was hired it was thought to be the move that would light a fire under said players mentioned. Paul was in need of a coach that could understand what it’s like to be a PG in the league but truth be told Rivers was never a top-notch player in the NBA so how could he truly get Paul to play at a higher level? Griffin was already considered the best at the PF position but a little more toughness was required and with River’s defensive background and him being around Kevin Garnett during his time in Boston, Rivers was thought to be the guy that could get him over that edge. Jordan was the enigma. He had raw talent but it needed to be harnessed in the right direction for him to reach his potential.

The talent didn’t end with the three stars, the Clippers are a much deeper team than some may think. In my opinion they may be the best team on paper from top to bottom, again for the 3rd straight season but…

Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, J.J. Redick, Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Matt Barnes, Darren Collison and more have all failed to make Rivers look like a genius in LA?

Does he have he respect of the locker room? To be honest I don’t think he does as much as everyone believes he does.

Remember, the team was almost ripped apart two seasons ago due to constant arguing between Paul and Jordan. Jordan had enough and decided to bolt in free agency to the Dallas Mavericks until Paul decided he didn’t want to lose another 5 assist per game with his lobs to Jordan. It was Paul whom really convinced Jordan to return to LA, not Rivers.

If there was such a major problem within the team between two of his stars Rivers did nothing to smooth it over and maybe he figured letting Jordan go was the best option for the team– until Paul decided otherwise.

So I ask you. “How is that having control of your team”?

Rivers couldn’t stop the issues from tearing them apart, he let one of the best centers in the NBA leave, then let a player talk you into bringing the same cancer back to the team.

Great move coach. And how has that worked out or him so far? The same as it has for the past three seasons, with he and his team sitting at home watching someone else hoist the Larry O’Brien

At least Scott Brooks took Oklahoma City to a finals appearance, Kevin Mchale took the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals (beating Rivers Clippers in the process), Blatt guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals and Brett Brown has the Philadelphia 76ers clearly focused on tanking.

Rivers has been golden during the regular season, but coaches paychecks are earned in the playoffs. He has had the luxury of coaching great talent, seasoned vets but still has not been able to achieve that level of success he had with the Boston Celtics. One is left to wonder if the blame needs to be put on the players or him? Paul has been a disappointment throughout his career during the postseason while Griffin and Jordan have been equally awful.

With their roster the Clips will always have a shot but with the recent signing of Kevin Durant to the Warriors do the Clippers have enough firepower of mental toughness to get over that hump? This falls on the shoulders of Rivers, no one else. He’s had the success as a coach, two Finals appearances, one championship, a much-needed defensive approach but it seems he forgot that part of his resume in Boston.

Every team in the Western Conference is moving in a direction, either some up or some down but the Clippers are stuck. They are left treading water in a pool that gets shallower every season. As the Clippers come to the crossroads Rivers must decide which direction he wants to take his team in.

Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com