Doc Rivers said Hack-a-Shaq rule change got little play over summer

Doc Rivers/Photo by Associated Press


Doc Rivers is on the NBA’s competition committee. One new rule it established over the summer was playoff seedings. Previously, any team winning its division was guaranteed a top 4 seed, even if it had an inferior record to a team that did not win its division.

That has now been changed so seedings will be based solely on record.

One rule change that would have been welcomed by fans didn’t get done. That’s the Hack-a-Shaq that affected the Clippers and post DeAndre Jordan, one of the worst free-throw shooters in the league.

When an opponent would make it a point to continually foul Jordan on purpose, it slowed the game down and made it downright difficult to watch.

But Rivers said the possibility of change there got little play.

“There really wasn’t a lot of talk (about that),” he said. “That rule is a tough one. I get it, again, for the fans; it’s ugly. It looks bad. But it’s tough to change a rule for five or six guys (in the league).”


Pablo Prigioni, 38, is making a good impression on Doc Rivers

Pablo Prigioni

Pablo Prigioni/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


Pablo Prigioni is 38, but he’s only going to be in his fourth NBA season because the native of Argentina previously played professionally in Argentina and Spain.

Coach Doc Rivers likes what he’s seen so far from Prigioni, who this past season toiled for the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.

“He is just a wonderful guy to have on your basketball team,” Rivers said. “Plays his role, he’s been a coach out there on the floor at times.”

Austin Rivers, son of Doc, has been working hard at becoming an even better defensive player than he already was. He said he plans on picking Prigioni’s brain for help.

“I’m still going to learn, get tips from Pablo Prigioni, who has been around,” Austin Rivers said. “Pablo has a lot of techniques to get his hands on balls, so does Chris (Paul).”


Doc Rivers: A good team is the best place for a role player to excel

Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers


Wesley Johnson this week was asked about being an inconsistent player, and he said that figures to change this season now that he’s on a deep team with the likes of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul anchoring it. Keep in mind the previous two seasons Johnson was with the Lakers, one of the league’s worst teams of late.

Speaking Tuesday in general terms and not specifically about Johnson, coach Doc Rivers believes playing on a good team can make the difference for a role player.

“When you’re on a good team and a role player, you’re a better player,” he said from training camp at UC Irvine. “You play better, kind of get your role better. When you’re on a bad team, usually no one actually knows their role and everyone is fighting each other to be the man because the team’s bad, you don’t believe the guy that’s good is that good.

“So I think it’s a lot easier when you come to a team and it’s clear who the guys are.”

Doc Rivers: Paul Pierce and Wes Johnson could share starting role

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards


Coach Doc Rivers was asked again Tuesday if he has made a decision as to who is going to start at small forward this season. As of right now, it’s either going to be Paul Pierce or Wesley Johnson. Lance Stephenson would also be a possibility, but Rivers said this week he would prefer to keep him on what figures to be a dynamite second unit.

Rivers still isn’t sure which way he’s going to go, but it could be they’ll both start at times.

“I think it’s going to be one of those things where it changes from night to night,” Rivers said. “There will be nights when Wes starts, nights when Paul starts. I  think we’re versatile enough to be able to do that.”

Rivers then made reporters laugh when one asked if matchups and such will determine who starts on a given night.

“Yeah, matchups, Paul’s age, a lot of things,” he said.

Pierce will be 38 on Oct. 13. Johnson is 28.


Doc Rivers says upcoming travel to Canada, China will be good for team

Doc Rivers/Photo by Associated Press

The Clippers will open their six-game exhibition season Friday when they play host to the Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center. Then they travel for a Sunday game against Toronto in Canada before embarking on a trip to China, where they will play the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 10 and Oct. 14.

It’s good for bonding, Doc Rivers said, especially for a team with so many new faces.

“The China travel is a little much, but if we’re going to go, I guess this year would probably be the right year to go because we have so many guys,” he said.  “It will give us a chance to get to know each other a little bit better.”

The Clippers’ final two exhibition games will be Oct. 20 against Golden State and Oct. 22 against Portland – both games will be at Staples Center.

For first and second units, one good push deserves another

Doc Rivers/Photo by Associated Press


Coach Doc Rivers on Monday talked about how spirited the first few days of camp have been at UC Irvine. There were two scrimmages this day, with the first and second units each winning one.

“It’s been good,” Rivers said. “And I think it’s been great for the starters because they have to deal with guys coming after them and not really showing them a lot of … you know, they’re just playing them.”

Newcomer Lance Stephenson has been playing with the second unit. He likes making the first unit sweat, and vice-versa.
“Definitely, we want them to work hard and we want them to push us at the same time, man,” he said. “That’s what Doc picked us up for and we came to help the team, to help the second unit and make it hard for them (the first unit) in practice. So come the game, they’ll be ready and we’ll be ready.”