Doc Rivers has served as coach and of the LA Clippers since 2013. It seems now, he’ll have one less job on that list to worry about.
As was first reported by ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers are relieving Rivers of his front-office role and will have him focus solely on coaching the team. Rivers, who is 217-111 in four seasons in Los Angeles, will be tasked with keeping the Clippers among the Western Conference elite. He oversaw the sign-and-trade deal that sent star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets this summer.
The L.A. Clippers announced today personnel moves aimed at bringing the team to a new level of excellence by creating separate roles for coaching leadership and basketball operations leadership. This change stems from discussions between team owner Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers.
Doc Rivers will serve as the team’s head coach, and Lawrence Frank will assume responsibility for basketball operations. Frank and Rivers will be peers in the Clippers’ structure, each reporting directly to owner Steve Ballmer. Doc and Lawrence will work closely together to lead the Clippers towards its goal of an NBA championship.
In announcing the shift, Ballmer noted: “Doc knows how to win championships. That is what we prioritize, and that is what Doc will focus on. He is key to integrating our new players with our returning players and taking us to new heights on the court.” He added: “Lawrence is someone I learn from every single time I hear him talk. He gets recruiting, talent development and identification, salary cap strategy – he gets it all. I know the team will be well positioned with him leading the front office. It is great to have two independent voices — and two of the League’s absolute professionals — working in partnership for our team. With these two guys at the helm, we will have great success.”
Rivers remarked: “I am committed to the Clippers success and am excited to focus on the coaching side as two thirds of our roster will be new this year. This is a change I discussed with Steve since my bet last year on Lawrence Frank has worked out so well.”
Frank commented that: “After a year in the organization’s front office, I am excited to continue to invest in our front office and I look forward to the opportunity. Steve has charged us with taking the Clippers to the next level, and together with Doc we will do just that.”
LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is returning Doc Rivers to the primary duty of head coach, freeing him of front office responsibilities, the owner told ESPN on Friday.
Rivers, who held the title of president of basketball operations, will continue to have a strong voice in personnel and organizational matters and will partner with Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, Ballmer told ESPN. Frank will now oversee basketball operations, including the general manager.
Both Frank and Rivers will report directly to the owner. Frank and Rivers enjoy a strong personal and professional relationship, which has allowed for them to cement a shared vision on the franchise’s future.
“I’ve owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner’s responsibility is — and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs,” Ballmer told ESPN. “The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn’t the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent minded people.
“There are different relationships that a player needs to have with the coach and the front office,” Ballmer said. “Doc put Lawrence in charge of the non-coaching aspects of the front office last year, and he’s done a fantastic job. I want each of them to dig in and do what they do best. Lawrence has come on so strong in that role, and that has helped us go down this path.”
“I want to have a world-class front office that identifies college and pro talent, that works with the agents and that has a long-range strategy that is based upon thinking through the analytics and options available to us,” Ballmer told ESPN.
The Clippers are the second organization to move away from the president-coach structure this spring. The Atlanta Hawks removed Mike Budenholzer from of the president-coach role this spring, shifting basketball operations authority to new general manager Travis Schlenk. The San Antonio Spurs(Gregg Popovich), Detroit Pistons (Stan Van Gundy) and Minnesota Timberwolves (Tom Thibodeau) are the remaining organizations that have a coach with ultimate decision-making authority.
“Doc has won a championship, one of only a few coaches in the league to do so,” Ballmer told ESPN. “Two-thirds of our lineup will be new, and there’s a huge job to bring everybody along to fit together.”