The Burden of Expectations Await the Next Clippers Head Coach
The Los Angeles Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets, and now wholesale changes are taking place. Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a patented Woj Bomb on Monday evening when he reported Doc Rivers was out as head coach of the team.
This is a surprise because it was only Doc's first year with the star pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George that came together last summer. And it was obviously quite a weird year, what with the pandemic cutting the season short and the playoffs taking place in neutral territory while players were, for the most part, unable to see friends or family. Losing a series in seven games after going up 3-1 is definitely a bad thing, to say the least, but one would figure Rivers would get at least one more year to prove he can coach this team to the heights the talent level suggests it can reach.
Now, the Clippers' job opening is the best on the market in every sense of the term. Most coaches would fall over for a chance to coach a team led by two two-way superstars in Leonard and George. Life becomes very easy when the two best players on the team can do everything on both ends of the court. Add in the pieces around them, and it's a ready-made championship contender. That's what we all assumed last summer, of course, but just because the Clippers didn't live up to expectations doesn't change the fact that two of the 10 best players in the league are on the roster.
Expectations are still sky-high, even if the Clippers turn to a first-time head coach like current assistant Sam Cassell. This team was built to battle LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. It also bowed out of the postseason before getting the chance to do so. The scrutiny around this LA team will be just as high, if not higher, than last season. All eyes will be on whoever takes on the responsibility of trying to guide a talented but underperforming (so far) team to championship contention. And if Doc Rivers, a man with a ring and praises sung around the league, didn't get more than one season to make his mark, how short of a leash will his replacement have?
Everything rides on who will be the next head coach for the Clippers. But whoever that will be must be ready for the spotlight that's coming with it.