Doc Talks Griffin, Durant, Pierce On The Woj Podcast
LOS ANGELES – Head coach Doc Rivers hopes Blake Griffin spends his entire career with the Clippers.
At this time of year, trade rumors tend to circulate. But when it comes to his star power forward, Rivers reiterated Thursday on Adrian Wojnarowski’s “The Vertical Podcast” none of the rumors are substantiated, and he plans on keeping Griffin.
“It’s funny, you don’t want to go out and send a press release every time there’s a rumor about Blake,” Rivers said. “We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers, period. So, when teams call, we say we have no interest.
“First of all, no team’s calling right now, because teams know we don’t have any interest. It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now.”
In regards to rumors specifically about the Celtics, Rivers said he’s only spoken to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge twice this summer.
“One was about the British Open,” Rivers said, “and one was about another golf tournament. That’s about it.”
Rivers knows the urgency to win now, especially with this being the last year Griffin and Chris Paul are under contract before their player option for the 2017-18 season. Rivers said he’s confident the Clippers will be able to keep both players, but he knows what has to happen.
“Winning is the key,” Rivers said. “The better we play on the floor, the better chance we have of not only keeping those guys, but actually adding to our basketball team. That’s always the key factor in this.”
Talking with Wojnarowski for nearly an hour, Rivers discussed the Clippers’ attempt to lure Durant (and ultimate decision to go to Golden State), the possible retirement of Paul Pierce, DeAndre Jordan’s “breakout” potential and the new pieces on the team.
On the Clippers’ core taking the jump this year – “This could be just speak, but I believe it – I think we are ready to win,” Rivers said. “I think we are ready to make the next step, because we have gone through stuff. And either that stuff can pull you apart to the point you just can’t put it back together, or it’s to the point where guys are tired of it and they’re ready to win. I really believe…like, I look at Blake and the way he’s working this summer, I look at CP and the way he’s working this summer.
“And DJ, I think, is the guy that doesn’t get mentioned enough. I think DJ is ready to have a breakout year. People say, ‘Breakout, what do you mean? He was on the All-NBA Team last year.’ I think DJ is at the age now and at the maturity point now where he’s about to enter into his prime, and I think that’s a great thing for our team.
On going for Durant – “It went hour to hour,” Rivers said. “That’s how tight it was, because we were going to wait it out.”
Rivers and the Clippers had to decide how long they were going to wait out Durant’s decision, while Clippers free agents were figuring out where they were going to sign simultaneously.
“We were willing to take the gamble if we felt we were in it, and we were in it,” Rivers said. “We were in the top three at the very end.”
Rivers said a couple free agents delayed their decisions momentarily as the Clippers figured out how realistic landing Durant would be.
“It told me two things,” Rivers said. “No. 1, we had two players on our team that could sign for more money, but they were going to wait another hour to stay with us. That told us we were doing something right. Then, the second thing was that we had to get this right. Like, if we’re going to go after Durant, if we can get him, let’s stay in it, it’s worth it even if we don’t get him. But if we’re not going to get him, we’ve got to make that decision and do our job business-wise.”
Rivers said the Clippers asked Durant’s representatives if they were in the top three teams he was considering, and they were. He then asked if the Clippers were in the top two.
“We had made the decision, if they say ‘no,’ then we go,” Rivers said. “If they say ‘yes,’ we stay. And they said ‘no.’”
Rivers said he thought Durant liked the presentation, but Durant would’ve needed to take a hit this year financially, then Griffin and Paul would’ve needed to take a hit financially next year. That wouldn’t have been the case in Oklahoma City or Golden State, the latter being his eventual choice.
On Pierce’s potential retirement – “I think Paul’s going back and forth on it. I want to give him room. I think he deserves it. From a team perspective, you would love that he’d made his decision eight weeks ago. I think there’s certain guys you just have to give time to, and Paul’s one of them. If Paul decides to retire, then we’re going to make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic, because that’s what he should retire as.”
On the Clippers’ additions this summer – “I like our team. I like the additions, I love Marreese Speights to our basketball team, I think that’s an addition to our team. Raymond Felton is an addition to our team. Keeping the nucleus was very, very important. Keeping the starting four, when you count J.J. (Redick), and then we’ve got to figure out who to put in that other (wing) spot, and trying to keep the bench together. That bench had, I don’t know what it had – it had something. That’s important, as well.”