When the Los Angeles Clippers got rid of Vinny Del Negro, and traded a first round pick to the Boston Celtics as compensation to get Doc Rivers out of his contract, hype around a championship season doubled, if not more. Three seasons later, Rivers' has went the same distance as Del Negro, and finished a season with similar records, beating out Del Negro by a single victory.
It goes far beyond his coaching decisions, many of which are just atrocious. Going from his rotations, to his love for veterans, even if they are net negatives, over younger guys putting in full effort. He can't get away from playing guys he knows, especially his son, Austin Rivers, despite being outplayed by better options sitting away on the bench.
Giving him the title of the teams General Manager and President of Basketball Operations was the worst thing Steve Ballmer has done since owning the Clippers. Yes, Chuck The Condor might be ugly, and a weird decision for a mascot, but it greatly pales in comparison to the atrocious decisions Rivers has made after taking charge of the roster.
On numerous occasions, Rivers has made an acquisition in the off season, just to turn around and deal that player with an asset, whittling away at the Clippers future, while not immediately providing any aid to reach championship aspirations, and the list is quite long.
When he came to Los Angeles, the Clippers had a budding young point guard behind Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was traded to the Phoenix Suns, along with Caron Butler, in a three team deal also involving the Milwaukee Bucks, where the Clippers got JJ Redick and Jared Dudley. A move criticized at the time, though Redick's consistent play has convinced some it was a great deal.
The issue wasn't the deal itself, but the ensuing one where Rivers traded Dudley to the Milwaukee Bucks, along with a future first round selection for three players that did not make the roster. Granted, Dudley struggled with his time in Los Angeles, was wildly inconsistent. However, he was playing with injury and gave full effort every night, on the defensive end. Since joining the Bucks, then the Washington Wizards, Dudley has improved his shooting from beyond the arc to 38.5% then 42.9%, while playing the same bulldog defense. He'd have fixed the Clippers current issue at the small forward slot, had Doc been patient and not used a first to trade Dudley, cap issues aside.
In other minor moves, Rivers also traded away Antawn Jamison and Spencer Hawes, with a second round selection also going out, after the two veterans didn't produce as expected.
In the midst of the 2014-15 campaign, Rivers traded away the Clippers sophomore first round selection, Reggie Bullock, along with Chris Douglas-Roberts and a second round selection to the Suns and New Orleans Pelicans in a three team trade to acquire Austin, his son. Also waiving Jordan Farmar in the process.
While Bullock wasn't getting much playing time, and Douglas-Roberts nor Farmar produced to the point of being rotation guys, Austin has been anything but average with Los Angeles. Constantly turning the ball over, getting lost on defense and taking bad shots, without getting benched, has hurt the second unit. For a guy designated as the back-up point guard, to average 1.3 assists to 0.9 turnovers is just abysmal. Yet, the playing time Austin receives is baffling, same with Jamal Crawford.
Fast forward to this season, where Rivers has continued his idiocy. During the summer, he traded away Matt Barnes, the Clippers consistent small forward, to dump the contract of Spencer Hawes, to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is touted to be a solid player with off court issues, though, none where visible in his short stint. However, it was clear as a guy who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, Rivers was overloading the bench with such guys, considering Austin and Crawford were on the bench.
Well, Stephenson never got his fair shake, and was traded at the deadline to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jeff Green, an average and expiring small forward. Memphis also got a first round selection from Los Angeles to trade two expiring contracts. Stephenson has had some solid games with the Grizzlies, granted, injuries are a key part of the minutes received by the swing man, while Green has been wildly inconsistent in Los Angeles.
Green has had games where he'll go for 20 on effective shooting, and started games with 14 in the first period. However, he'll follow it up with a scoreless effort, or not score for the rest of the game. His defense also leaves a lot to be desired, and not the kind of piece you want as a core part of a championship roster. With the return of the injured Blake Griffin, Green needs to do what he can to improve his game and be the small forward needed.
Signing Josh Smith for the minimum also was a steal for the Clippers, however, Smith didn't get much playing time and entered Rivers' dog house almost immediately. Rivers, then, traded him away, with cash considerations to cover the remaining amount of his contract, back to the Houston Rockets, while swapping the rights of two international players that will never step foot in the NBA.
How Ballmer allows Rivers to continue in either capacity is just beyond this one Clipper fan, and numerous others would be quick to agree. It's clear his decision making is atrocious, and his ability to put together a team that gels is not going to happen for a while. Never mind the nepotism.
It has gotten to the point where I'd prefer the Clippers to bring back Mike Dunleavy as the General Manager and Del Negro as coach.