The reverberations of Doc Rivers’ move to the Clippers from Boston, plus the Celtics’ blockbuster deal sending Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, clearly reached the West Coast — particularly with commentator Bill Simmons saying Rivers “quit” on the Celtics.
“I would like to call him an idiot, but I’m too classy for that,” Rivers said in a television interview. “I mean, that’s just his opinion. That didn’t happen. He really needs to know the whole truth, which he doesn’t.”
In the first NBA Draft of the Doc Rivers regime, the Clippers selected North Carolina shooting guard Reggie Bullock Thursday night with the No. 25 pick.
Bullock, a 6-foot-7 junior, fills a need the Clippers identified — a shooter. He also has the size that could help them defensively on the perimeter. However, while Bullock has built his reputation with his shooting ability, one apparent drawback is Bullock’s lack of playing an attacking offensive game.
In a draft that was beyond unpredictable, it might turn out the Clippers were fortunate to get one of the players they targeted during the weeks of scouting leading up to selection process. Bullock averaged 13.9 points per game and hit 88 3-pointers, the third-most in North Carolina history, last season for the Tar Heels.
It is the only pick of the draft in 2013 for the Clippers, who will now turn their full attention to the free agency market. The obvious priority there is bringing back Chris Paul, and then retooling the roster.
“Winning can never be taken for granted,” he said. “You use Oklahoma (City) as that example. They went to the Finals last year and probably assumed they’d be there this year and they were not there. Every year’s a different year, and I’ve learned that if I have learned anything. When you have an opportunity or you think you have an opportunity, you try to seize the moment and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Last season, the Clippers prided themselves and rallied on the fact that a disparate group, some thrown into the mix at the last minute, developed into a close-knit unit that had contributions from every part of the bench, not to mention the locker room.
As the 2013-14 season unfolds, whatever teamwork develops won’t be by accident.
“I’m a big believer in culture,” Rivers said. “When I went to Boston, even though it had an amazing amount of history, I thought we had to do different things there. When I went to Orlando it was the same thing. That doesn’t mean it was all right, it wasn’t … I do believe in a winning culture. You have to have that first before you can win and I think that’s the tone I’m going to try to set starting today.”
The 6-11 DeAndre Jordan was effusive in his praise for Doc Rivers’ resume as a defensive architect and said that could help him become the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Apprised of the quote, Rivers beamed.
“I think he’s a brilliant kid,” Rivers said, laughing. “I really, really, like him right now.”
Rivers will like him better if he can pull Jordan’s career free-throw percentage significantly closer to Rivers’ 78.4 percent.
This might have been the last thing you’d expect as an assessment of Blake Griffin’s game. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers sees a the high-flying All-Star from a different perspective than most.
“A super athlete, but much more than that,” Rivers said. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for all the other stuff. His dunks sometimes block out all the other things he does. I think one of the best attributes no one knows – I think he’s a great passer. I’m talking European-talented passer.
“I think he’s that good with the ball at the elbows. We’re going to get him there some and allow him to be that.”
Before you think the Clippers’ star is going to be molded into the second coming of Toni Kukoc, Rivers also sees a defensive stalwart in the making, one who can clog the lane with DeAndre Jordan next to him.
“I think he can be a better defensive player,” Rivers said of Griffin. “(He) and DeAndre, that combination I think has a chance to be the best combination in the league defensively. When you’re young, there’s growth and he has some growing to do.”