–The target falls on Doc Rivers as Clippers blow up

January 30, 2018

Doc Rivers lost.

If shuttling Chris Paul out of town this offseason wasn’t the end of the Clippers as we know them, the Clippers that Rivers inherited, Monday night was.

Trading franchise forward Blake Griffin to the Pistons in a stunning blockbuster move marked the end of an era, the end of the hopes that Rivers could take this core to the next level, and the end of Rivers truly running the franchise.

For years — and as recently as a few months ago — Rivers insisted Griffin would not be dealt. The 28-year-old star was the piece the team built around, whom the Clippers threw $173 million at in June in committing fully to him. The entire reason Rivers left the Celtics after the 2012-13 season was that he did not want to withstand a rebuilding. If the Clippers aren’t rebuilding after trading Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first- and second-round draft pick, they are at least extremely retooling.

The Lob City era is over, never making even a Western Conference finals appearance. And now, at least externally, the blame has begun to be assigned.

“So you trade this guy after paying him this much money..?” former NBA headcase Matt Barnes, who played under Rivers from 2013-15, wrote on Instagram after the Griffin trade. “When everyone in the organization & everyone who’s played there knows DOC IS THE PROBLEM!!! Smfh cold game! Make sure you pack a jacket BG!!! Love Bro.”

Matt Barnes and Rivers in 2014AP

If Los Angeles doesn’t think Rivers is the whole problem, it acknowledged last year that he’s at least part of it. Rivers already had been stripped of his front-office role as head of basketball operations in August. The Clippers announced radical restructuring this offseason, in which NBA legend Jerry West was brought in, and former Nets coach Lawrence Frank took over Rivers’ personnel role. The 56-year-old was relegated to merely coach four years after the Clippers gave him the keys to the franchise. And the destruction has begun on a team he fought to keep intact.

Now more moves that will displease Rivers are sure to come, with DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams likely the next two major pieces to be dealt. Rivers, in his fifth year with the Clippers and an NBA coaching fixture since 1990, is now in unfamiliar territory: not in charge. – #1 News in a FLASH

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