Now that Steve Ballmer has introduced himself with the Clippers community following a team rally at Staples Center earlier this week, the boss man is set to get ready to work. And based on a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarwoski, in a post from earlier this month, the first thing on Ballmer’s to-do list is extending head coach Doc Rivers.
In the wake of owner Steve Ballmer gaining governorship control of the Los Angeles Clippers, discussions on a contract extension for Doc Rivers are expected to commence soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Ballmer and Rivers had been eager to forge a long-term partnership, and a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling to sell the franchise on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust has cleared the way to work toward a new deal.
Doc Rivers importance to this franchise grew as the 2013-14 season played out. In the regular season, he proved to be the difference between the Clippers being good and the franchise being great and a championship contender, helping Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan take much-needed leaps toward becoming elite at their positions, as well as instilling confidence in a team that was serious lacking in that department prior to his arrival.
In the postseason, Rivers stepped into a bigger, unsuspected role, sheltering the team amidst the Donald Sterling controversy that hung over the team through the playoffs and summer. Dick Parsons, interim CEO for the Clippers, described Rivers impact on the team perfectly during the Donald vs. Shelly Sterling trial, referring to Rivers as a ‘father figure’.
Now, Rivers looks to have found himself a place of comfort. Most notably, he’s found himself in a position of power. It’s an often glossed-over fact, but it must be remembered that Rivers strong-armed himself out of Boston to settle into a better situation. The Clippers were the better team in comparison to the Boston Celtics franchise that he’d spent nine seasons with. The Clippers also had a more promising future with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the team; in comparison, the Celtics were in rebuild mode. And most importantly, the Clippers put Rivers in a position of power, allowing him to dawn the tag of senior vice president of basketball operations (in the summer, management promoted Rivers to president of basketball operations).
As of now, Rivers has two years remaining on the biggest coaching contract in the NBA (tied first with Stan Van Gundy of Detroit at ~$7 million per). Woj’s piece doesn’t indicate how many years on the extension have been discussed, but a deal that would extend to the current contract to expire in the summer of 2018 when Chris Paul’s and Blake Griffin’s contract both expire.