Report: Clippers owner consulted Paul George, Kawhi Leonard before firing Doc Rivers
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was the one who made the decision to part ways with head coach Doc Rivers this week, but he did not make the move without first talking to his star players.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk shared some details on Tuesday from the days leading up to the divorce between Rivers and the Clippers. Ballmer and Rivers had multiple phone conversations over the course of more than a week following L.A.’s collapse against the Denver Nuggets, and Ballmer was left wondering if the franchise needed a new voice. Before he made a final decision, he spoke with president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and team consultant Jerry West. Ballmer also reportedly sought opinions from several players, including Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
It’s unclear if Leonard and/or George vouched for Rivers, but Shelburne and Youngmisuk were told that nothing either play said changed Ballmer’s mind.
Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014 and admitted he knew very little about running an NBA team at the time. He vowed to take his time and learn about the organization before making any major changes, but those close to him felt it was a matter of time before he put his stamp on the franchise.
The Clippers twice blew 3-1 leads in playoff series under Rivers. The collapse against Denver in Orlando was troubling enough, but the remarks made by Rivers and Clippers players after the series are likely what cost the coach his job.
George and Lou Williams pointed to chemistry as an issue for the Clippers. George also made some head-scratching comments about the team not having a championship-or-bust mentality despite their huge offseason moves.
Rivers made some strategic decisions in the postseason that reportedly left players scratching their heads, but the chemistry issues were likely far more of a concern for Ballmer. Time will tell if the decision to fire Rivers was the right one. We have already heard of some big-name candidates who could potentially replace him.