The search has officially begun to find a replacement for head coach Doc Rivers after Rivers and the Clippers “mutually” parted ways Monday.
The process should start in house, where the Clippers already have a championship-winning head coach on their bench. Rivers spent most of the season advocating for his lead assistant Tyronn Lue, who was the head coach in Cleveland for nearly three seasons, to get another coaching job. Rivers also made an impassioned case for Sam Cassell to lead his own staff, and Clippers broadcaster Chauncey Billups has expressed interest in coaching as well.
Lue has been mentioned as a likely replacement, which makes sense given his credentials and the team’s championship timeline. With Rivers gone, there are only four active NBA coaches who have won a title, so Lue is in rare company. There is pressure to succeed quickly in Los Angeles, but Lue is no stranger to that, as he stepped in to the Cleveland job midseason and led the Cavaliers to their first and only championship in franchise history.
Multiple other teams are interested in Lue, including the 76ers, Rockets, and Pelicans, but the Clippers job should be more appealing than any of the alternatives. Lue expected to be in this city as the head coach of the Lakers last year; it would be interesting if he landed on the other end of the hallway only a season later.
One other name who has been floated as a candidate for the Clippers position is Jeff Van Gundy. Van Gundy hasn’t coached in the NBA since 2007, but he has been involved with the national team since 2017. He led the USA to gold at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup, and then also helped Team USA qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The degree of difficulty was high, as neither team had NBA players.
There is no salary cap on coaching salaries, so Steve Ballmer could theoretically make the next Clippers head coach the highest-paid in the NBA. There is also money to spend to assemble the best possible set of assistants. Dedicated ownership and a roster ready to compete make this a desirable destination for prospective head coaches. Now the challenge becomes finding someone better than Rivers.
Who would you like to see the Clippers hire? If they don’t pick someone currently on staff, I’d like to see them hire a new head coach. Kevin Arnovitz’s list is a good place to start.
More news for Tuesday:
- Before Monday’s bombshell, The Athletic made the case for both Lue and Cassell in Houston.
- Brian Windhorst highlights the risk the Clippers are taking.
- Kevin Pelton goes one step further and suggests the Clippers made a mistake.
- Paolo Uggetti tries to determine where the Clippers and Rivers go from here.
- James Herbert argues that coaching is far from the only problem the Clippers have to address.