The change the LA Clippers needed
A breath of fresh air has swept through the Los Angeles Clippers.
While the off-season focus centred on the ins and outs on the court, the change of coach was just as significant.
After seven years in charge, Doc Rivers was replaced as head coach of the Clippers by his assistant Ty Lue.
Rivers had an incredibly positive impact as coach of the Clippers, leading the team to a 356-208 record in his time.
Under Rivers’ leadership, the Clippers were always a contender, became a destination club for free agents and commanded respect like no other time in the franchise’s history.
For all the good that Rivers brought to the Clippers though, it will be remembered as a title-less run.
Rivers is still a great coach with plenty of years of coaching growth ahead of him, but it was just time for a parting of ways with the Clippers.
The Rivers-Clippers relationship got stale in the end.
The longer the relationship went, the more desperate Rivers became for instant success.Embed from Getty Images
In the end, Rivers could see no further than a season ahead, failing to properly develop young depth players and giving up a swag of draft picks and a young stud in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for Paul George.
George is a star, but there is no doubt that he could have been acquired for much less than what Rivers and the Clippers front office gave up to land his services.
In the bubble, where the Clippers infamously coughed up a 3-1 lead to lose to the Denver Nuggets in the western conference semi finals, Rivers seemed to have a lack answers.
Rivers continually rolled with the same under performing line-ups, hoping it would eventually click. It didn’t.
While it was a shock to most that Rivers and the Clippers split in the off-season, hindsight would say the writing was on the wall after the bubble experience.
Rivers moved on to coach the Philadelphia 76ers, while his assistant Lue stepped up to coach the Clippers.
Lue is an NBA championship winning coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers, though some disrespecting pundits give all of the credit to LeBron James, the team’s superstar.
The 43-year-old almost has a point to prove as the head coach of the Clippers.
As a young coach, legacies would be the furthest thing from the mind of Lue.
But with stars Kawhi Leonard and George at his disposal, Lue inherits a Clippers roster in win-now mode, so the examination of his coaching begins.
Even though Lue is in a win-now situation, we have already seen that he is not afraid to get minutes into the youngsters, empowering second year players Terance Mann and Mfiondu Kabengele with some important minutes.Embed from Getty Images
Rookie Daniel Oturu and inexperienced Amir Coffey have also seen time on the court.
It might only be a few minutes here and there, but what it does is keep every player on the roster engaged and focused.
The other big difference for the Clippers on this young NBA season has been Lue’s calm demeanour.
Rivers often had running verbal battles with the referees, which almost gave the green light for his players to follow suit.
There were times when Rivers and his players were spot on in their dispute of a call, but they could not let it go and their focus would be shot for a quarter.
Under Lue, the Clippers have regained their focus, and it is showing in their play.
Aside from an out-of-character loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers have hardly put a foot wrong and will head into 2021 with a 4-1 record.
Lue’s system has been embraced by all the players and new recruits Serge Ibaka, Nic Batum and Luke Kennard have fitted in seamlessly.
While the Clippers are still in a honeymoon period with Lue as head coach, the signs are pointing to a positive post-Rivers era.