The LA Clippers decided to part ways with head coach Doc Rivers weeks after an embarrassing semi-final defeat to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA playoffs, having gone 3-1 up at one point. Rivers' job had come under intense scrutiny ever since that debacle, and the LA Clippers organization finally made a decision this Monday.
Doc Rivers has been a coach in the NBA since 1999 and has one championship to his name. His experience and the respect he commands around the league means that he will definitely be wanted by many franchises now that he has hit the free agency market.
Currently, there are 5 NBA teams (excluding the LA Clippers) who are still hunting for a head coach for the 2019-20 season. Let's rank those teams on how well Doc Rivers suits them.
#5 Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder have well and truly hit the rebuild button. After making it all the way to Game 7 of the Western Conference first round despite extremely low odds, the franchise stuck with its decision to start from scratch and will be trading away stars like Chris Paul and Steven Adams.
There are a number of exciting young talents in the current OKC roster, none more so than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. While it would certainly be great to have Gilgeous-Alexander back developing under Doc Rivers, the latter is at a stage in his career where he is better-off coaching contenders.
#4 Philadelphia 76ers
Although the Philadelphia 76ers have a solid team on paper, they have shown worrying signs when they actually step on to the court. Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have failed to fit well together in the starting 5, meaning that either of them - if not both - could be traded. Moreover, the albatross contracts of Al Horford and Tobias Harris make a quick revamp almost impossible to pull off.
The 76ers could certainly take a shot with Doc Rivers trying to re-model their offense so as to maximize both Embiid and Simmons' production at the same time. However, chances are that the franchise will need to rebuild in the near future anyway. As a result, Rivers might not be the best option as things stand.
#3 Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers have a very deep roster, with a multitude of good players instead of one megastar to lead them. Domantas Sabonis shines the brightest among them, and the Indiana Pacers fans wouldn't be wrong in dreaming of an NBA title sometime soon. Doc Rivers could be the man to make that happen.
When the Boston Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 under Doc Rivers, the 58-year-old excelled in making a number of stars share the ball and play a good brand of two-way basketball. He could do much of the same with the Indiana Pacers and although they would need a lot of things to go their way in the coming years for it to happen, an NBA title isn't completely out of the equation.
#2 New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have perhaps the brightest future among all young teams in the NBA right now. With generational talent Zion Williamson to lead from the front, the Pelicans could be a frightening team sooner rather than later. The Pelicans have shown potential of being a solid team at both ends of the floor, and Doc Rivers could be the man to fulfill that.
Although he will have to wait for at least a couple more seasons to realistically go for the NBA championship, Rivers has all the pieces he needs to mount a serious title challenge in New Orleans. It'll be interesting to see how the offense is set up if the Pelicans do go for Rivers.
#1 Houston Rockets
Superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook definitely need a proven coach to fight for the title once again next season. The Mike d'Antoni experiment looked good at times but never really worked out when it mattered most. Doc Rivers would introduce a more balanced approach to winning NBA games. Moreover, he has proven before that he can manage two or more big stars in one team quite competently.
The Houston Rockets need another major piece to realistically battle for a championship but acquiring Doc Rivers should be near the top of their to-do list this off-season.
Published 29 Sep 2020, 08:59 IST