Doc Rivers is a champion, and he sure does love Los Angeles. What he doesn’t love, however, is the possibility that Donald Sterling is still the owner when the season begins. Rivers handled a difficult situation at the toughest time last season in the midst of a playoff run. This offseason he took on the additional role as Team President, but the coach may walk away if the lawsuits further delay the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The only team in the league without a head coach is in fact the team that pays in the same building. The Los Angeles Lakers have been the afterthought in terms of basketball success in the past few seasons. They also have held three interviews with former player, former head coach and current assistant coach Byron Scott. This is the next head coach of the rebuilding Lakers unless Rivers leaves the Clippers. After all, he has expressed several times his desire to leave if Sterling is associated with the team. The question becomes, is he understanding of the time frame it takes to handle lawsuits? If he refuses to consider that fact, then perhaps he is interested in jumping ship despite the title of coach and president — as if the Clippers weren’t going through enough.
As a team that has been rebuilt by drafting Blake Griffin and trading for Chris Paul, some conspiracy theorists could say this is what the Lakers are owed. Before the coveted point guard developed “Lob City,” there was an accepted trade that the NBA vetoed as the league owned the New Orleans franchise at the time. Then, last offseason the Clippers traded a first-round pick to acquire Rivers, who drastically improved a talented team and turned them into title contenders moving forward.
The power shifted between L.A. teams. Now that you have the information, truth be told, I don’t expect Rivers to change colors. The NBA would love for this to be put to rest as soon as possible, in addition to Clippers Nation. There are legal rights that Sterling is exhausting, but the result appears inevitable. It’s a smart game plan for the rival Lakers to become relevant again with a veteran team in place, but even then it would take at least couple of seasons if the balance in power shifted back.
The purple and gold may be trying the patience of their former championship player. Scott’s been trying to return to L.A. for years and would probably be an option for the Clippers too if they had to replace Rivers. The Lakers may be playing with fire, but it’s not likely that Scott bails out on them when Rivers and the Clippers begin the new season together as expected. Being the coach and president means that Rivers was given control to call all the shots for the first time in his career. That’s something he didn’t get the opportunity to do with Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics despite bringing them a trophy. He worked hard to move up. Now that he has extra power I think he has the team focus and trust in the NBA to put matters to rest soon.