Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers is one of the best in the business. Rivers recently earned his 300th win as Clippers head coach, after previously winning 300 plus games as head coach of the Boston Celtics. Rivers has also: Led Boston to the 2008 NBA Championship, been named Coach of the Year for the 1999-2000 season, and also named the head coach for the All-Star game on two occasions.
Given the likely dismissal that Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton is facing, it’s no wonder that Rivers’ name is being mentioned as a potential replacement. It’s all but certain the Lakers will be in the market for a head coach at seasons end.
For what it’s worth, Doc Rivers has said all the right things. Per an interview on March 19, Rivers said: “Let me end this. (Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations) Magic Johnson and I are very close friends, but (Clippers owner) Steve Ballmer and I have a great relationship. He (Ballmer) gave me an out, where I could opt-out this summer, early this year, let’s end this thing, extend, make it a longer deal. I’m here. My job is not done. I’m going nowhere. I’m going to be here for a long time.”
Similar statements have been made by coaches across all sports, in both the college and professional ranks, when linked to (potential) job openings. The proper thing to do in this instance is to deny any association, as, at the moment, the Lakers head coaching job is not vacant. While it’s more than likely that Luke Walton will be “relieved of his duties” in a few weeks, it’s not a good thing to talk about another individual’s job, especially when he/she is still employed in said job. To that end, the speculation about Rivers, and any other possible hires won’t end until a decision is actually made when (if) Walton is in fact dismissed.
Rivers’ being linked to the Lakers head coaching job is both a blessing and a curse. While it is flattering to be thought of in such high regard, he knows it’s not appropriate to either lobby or place himself in the running while the job is not yet available.
Typically, when new management comes into power with a head coach already in place, unless said head coach has an unquestioned championship track record/pedigree (such as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick or San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for example), they are more than likely going to be replaced by someone the new (insert executive title here) brings onboard themselves. Given Luke Walton was not a Magic Johnson/Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka hire, and, he doesn’t appear to be the coach of choice of LeBron James, i.e., the franchise player, Walton’s days as Lakers head coach appear to be numbered.
With Rivers’ success, his name will undoubtedly surface/be linked to other job openings as they actually or potentially become available. For now, he is the head coach of the Clippers and doing quite a commendable job at that.
After trading All-Star power forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets and allowing center DeAndre Jordan to sign as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks, as of this writing, Rivers has guided the Clippers to a 44-30 record. This has to be one of his most masterful coaching jobs, given the team lacks superstar power, and plays the “little brother/second fiddle” role to the Lakers, in spite of having the better performing team.
Upon the eventual firing of Walton and until a new coach is in place, we can expect to hear Doc Rivers’ name associated with the position. Will he “move” to the other LA head coaching gig, or will he stay put? Only Rivers knows for sure.