Los Angeles Clippers: Doc Rivers Ruining Clippers?

Dec 22, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers gives direction to his team against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 22, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers gives direction to his team against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers might be killing the Clippers — before he can help them.

Rivers is the second-best coach in the league behind Gregg Popovich. There’ll be a day when he’s considered the best. He has 669 wins under his belt, a .567 career winning percentage, and one championship. If the NBA drafted coaches, things don’t get more lottery than Rivers.

In particular aspects on the hardwood, he’s top dog. Coming out of the timeout, Rivers might be the best in the game. His ability to squeeze maximum talent out of his players is another great quality. With his most notable example stemming from his time with the original big three in Boston.

However, Rivers’ ability to build championship rosters is suspect. If the Clippers record of 25-13 isn’t enough of a sign, their revolving door of underperforming players is. Once a team that was next up, the Clippers have been relegated back to the middle of the road. They’re yet to figure out personnel, and Rivers’ inefficiencies might have cost the Clippers their championship window.

Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside went H.A.M. on the Clippers after the 104-90 Heat win Sunday afternoon. With a career high in points (23) and rebounds (16), Whiteside drew the post game interview. He used his camera time to send a message to Rivers.

“I got a chip on my shoulder,” Whiteside said. “Every team in the NBA said no to me. Especially this team. I mean, I couldn’t even get a training camp invite. The Clippers thought it was a good idea; Doc said no. I tried to get a workout then; Doc said no.”

This issue isn’t about Whiteside. He’s spent the bulk of his career in the D-League and overseas. In a few weeks, he’ll fade back into obscurity.

More from Hoops Habit

Whiteside is taking advantage of an opportunity. However, it takes more than a string of good games to mold a strong career. Just ask Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin. Some say that success is preparation meeting opportunity. Time will tell how much success Whiteside will see for the remainder of this season and further down the road.

It does shine light on a greater issue; specifically the growing list of players that have underperformed for the Clippers. It’s fair to say they’ve auditioned and dismissed more than their fair share. Since his arrival, the Clippers roster has become worse since Rivers has been calling the shots.

If there was any momentum left from Neil Olshey’s departure, it’s been vacuumed out of Staples Center.

This is the front office that traded guard Eric Bledsoe for Jared Dudley and current starting guard J.J. Redick. Two seasons later the Clippers face a Bledsoe and Goran Dragic tandem four times a season. They’ll be stuck with memories of what could’ve been a Chris Paul-Bledsoe two-headed monster.

Bledsoe would also be in the last year of his rookie contract this season, leaving more cap available. The lack thereof being another of the Clippers current problems.

That’s just one example of a few personnel executive miscues from Rivers. There are others–Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Dudley, Hedo Turkoglu, Darius Morris, Glen Davis, to name a few. Every team needs a few roster fillers; however ,when only one bench player averages more than seven points, there’s an issue.

Dan Woike of the OC Register has noticed the Clippers bench woes as well. They’re hard to overlook.

"On nights when Crawford has struggled to score, the bench has usually struggled to score. Even with some recent improvements and blowout-induced minute expansions, reserves other than Crawford have scored 10 or more points just 15 times this season.Last year, Darren Collison scored more than 10 points 18 times in 45 games off the Clipper bench."

Now the Clippers are faced with an urgent need to upgrade with no reasonable solution. There are no players that are expendable on this team, and the guys that are, aren’t of much value. Before joining the Clippers, Big Baby Davis was paid to not pay basketball for the Magic.

Douglas-Roberts had been sent back and forth to the D-League enough to suggest he wasn’t worthy of a starting role. As always, hindsight is 20-20.

Those are just two examples of a growing issue for the Clippers. Trading Crawford seems to be a growing solution internally among the Clippers front office; it’s also the last resort. At the moment, the Clippers will try to pawn off players like Jordan Farmar and (bench) company. Guys who the majority of teams in the league most likely will pass on.

There’s not much talent you can receive back for Farmar, or Davis or Douglas-Roberts. And while typically the final solution is to fix your ills in summer, the Clippers will be considerably less attractive of a free-agent destination. Especially with the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets blossoming.

Perhaps there’s something that the Clippers can do, but who knows if Rivers will be the one to do it. It will take what he has as an executive and a miracle to get this team back on track. They’ve gone from contender to middle of the road pretender, seemingly overnight.

It seems the Clippers are being left behind. Much of it through no fault but their own. Although Rivers is as untouchable as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul themselves, typically that’s the stuff guys are fired over.

Next: What the Clippers Need to be Contenders