Doc Rivers believes Clippers now match up with best in the West

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan re-signed with the Clippers for four years and $88 million/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


The Clippers have made several additions to their roster during the off-season. The players brought on board include Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson and draft pick Branden Dawson.

That’s not to mention the Clippers re-signed DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers and are expected to soon make the signing of Pablo Prigioni official once he passes his physical, which, according to a league source is all that remains for that to be a done deal.

The question is, how do the Clippers now stack up with the best in the West? Golden State is NBA champion, San Antonio now has LaMarcus Aldridge and Oklahoma City figures to be very tough, providing it stays healthy.

Coach Doc Rivers believes his team is right there with anyone and everyone in the conference.

“Well, I think we’re better,” Rivers said. “And I think you have to be better. The West is better in a lot of ways. Oklahoma is better because they’ll be healthy. I think people are forgetting about them. San Antonio has gotten a lot better. But I think we have gotten a lot better as well. And Golden State, they’re the champs. So they’ve gotten better by winning it. Their swag, their confidence now will be hard. You have to knock that off.

“But the one thing I do look at this team is you look at the last two champions, we’ve beaten the last two in the playoffs. Two years ago we beat Golden State and last year we beat San Antonio. So the last two teams that have won titles we knocked them out in the last two years as well.”

That means a lot, Rivers said.

“So (that) tells us we’re right there,” he said. “But we’re not over the hump yet. And that’s what we have to get this year.”

Doc Rivers has an idea how his rotation might go, but he’s not saying

Los Angeles Clippers press conference to announce new and returning players Tuesday July 21, 2015 at Staples Center. Players from left holding jerseys are Branden Dawson, Deandre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson.
Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Clippers coach Doc Rivers poses with five new players and DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers at Tuesday’s news conference/Staff photo by Robert Casillas


It was Tuesday, about 12:30 p.m., and Doc Rivers had just finished playing host to a news conference at Staples Center. He was there to re-introduce DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers (Doc’s son), as well as five new players, to the Los Angeles media. The five included forwards Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson and Branden Dawson and center Cole Aldrich; Dawson was picked No. 56 in the June draft, the other four were signed as free agents.

The question now is, what’s the lineup and the overall rotation going to look like?

“I have an idea,” said Doc Rivers, who will be entering this third season as head coach.

With small forward Matt Barnes now gone via a trade, will Pierce start in his spot? Perhaps it will be Smith. Or Lance Stephenson, who earlier this off-season was introduced after coming over in the trade with the Charlotte Hornets for Barnes and Spencer Hawes.

Doc Rivers wouldn’t say.

“I want to make them play,” he said.

In other words, there will be a fight for that spot, as well as for playing time in general.

At 37, Pierce may be better suited to come off the bench. And since Stephenson could be used at three different positions – guard, point guard and small forward – he might be more useful as a reserve as well. That would seem to leave Smith with the best shot at starting at small forward. Smith, who can play power forward as well, could spell Blake Griffin at that spot, too.

This is not to discount Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Lakers. He can play both small forward and shooting guard.

The obvious starters at this moment are J.J. Redick and Chris Paul at the guard spots, Jordan at center and Griffin at power forward.

The decision for Austin Rivers to re-sign with Clippers was not difficult

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


When guard Austin Rivers first came to the Clippers this past season to play for his father, coach Doc Rivers, there was no shortage of reporters who wondered how it was going to work out. After all, it was the first time in NBA history a player was to toil for his head-coach pops.

By recently signing a two-year contract to remain with the Clippers for about $6.4 million, the younger Rivers put to rest any notion that a situation like this couldn’t work. Austin Rivers on Tuesday talked about what it was like when he first arrived in mid-January after being traded to the Clippers

“It was definitely challenging at first, just because I knew what I’d have to deal with just coming here and what it would look like for me, and also just the questions of how could a father-and-son relationship work on a professional level,” he said. “And I took that chance. It was a chance that I needed to take for myself because I honestly believed that if I came here, not only would I start to play the way I knew I could play, but also helps this team in an area where they needed help.”

The Clippers didn’t have much flexibility to sign players to long-term deals, but for now, the two-year accord Rivers signed just over a week ago was fine.

“Right now I signed a two-year deal because I want to come here and help this team win,” he said at a news conference Tuesday at Staples Center; joining Rivers were his father and teammates DeAndre Jordan, Paul Pierce, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith and Branden Dawson. “And that’s my focus right now. And I believe we can do so, so it really made my decision very, very easy to come back and really maybe not even try to venture out and see what else is out there because I wanted to be here.”

Rivers averaged 7.1 points and 1.7 assists in 41 regular-season games with the Clippers this past season. He averaged 8.4 points in the playoffs and had a couple of very big games.

Rivers won’t be 23 until Aug. 1.


Clippers re-sign guard Austin Rivers to two-year deal worth $6.4 million

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


The Los Angeles Clippers on Monday announced they have re-signed guard Austin Rivers to a two-year contract and signed center Cole Aldrich to a one-year contract with a player option for a second year.

The Clippers last week re-signed center DeAndre Jordan and signed small forwards Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson.

Austin Rivers, son of Clippers coach Doc Rivers, signed for a total $6.4 million, according to a league source. That’s the most the Clippers could pay him.

The younger Rivers came to the Clippers during the 2014-15 season in a three-team deal with the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns. He had just been traded from New Orleans to Boston and never had to report to Boston as he was then dealt to the Clippers.

Rivers averaged 7.1 points and 1.7 assists in 41 games for the Clippers after coming over in mid-January. He upped his level of play in the post-season when he averaged 8.4 points and 1.1 assists playing in all 14 games.

Austin Rivers was given a lot of credit for helping the Clippers win Game 4 of their first-round series at San Antonio by scoring 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting off the bench. That victory tied that series 2-2 and came on the heels of a 100-73 Game 3 loss at San Antonio.

Then, in the Western Conference semifinals, Rivers scored 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting to help Los Angeles to a 124-99 victory over Houston in Game 3 at Staples Center.

Rivers, who is 6-foot-4, played one season of college ball at Duke. He played the first 2 1/2 seasons of his pro career with New Orleans. He’ll be 23 on Aug. 1.

Aldrich, who is 6-11, has been in the NBA for five seasons. His contract calls for the veterans’ minimum. In his case, that’s $1,100,602 for the upcoming season. He played his first two seasons for Oklahoma City, played for Houston and Sacramento in 2012-13 and for the New York Knicks the past two seasons.

His most productive season came in 2014-15 when he averaged 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 61 games with New York, starting 16 and averaging 16.0 minutes.
Aldrich, 26, was drafted 11th overall in the 2010 draft. He played his college ball at Kansas. He was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and second-team All-America in 2010.

Clippers make the signing of small forward Paul Pierce official

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce/Photo courtesy of Washington Wizards


The Clippers on Friday officially announced the signing of small forward Paul Pierce. The contract is reported to be for three years for roughly $10 million.

Pierce is being reunited with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who was the head coach at Boston from 2004-13. Pierce began his career with the Celtics in 1998 and played for them for 15 seasons before playing for the Brooklyn Nets in 2013-14 and the Washington Wizards this past season.

Rivers and Pierce won an NBA title together in 2008.

Pierce, who is 6-foot-7, has career scoring and rebounding averages of 20.7 and 5.8, respectively. He averaged 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2014-15.

Pierce is 37 and will be 38 on Oct. 13. He prepped at Inglewood High.

It’s the third signing this week for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan re-signed on Thursday, and Wesley Johnson also signed on Thursday.

Johnson averaged 9.1 and 9.9 points the past two seasons, respectively, for the Lakers. Johnson, a 6-7 small forward, will turn 28 on Saturday.


Doc Rivers likes the moratorium period just the way it is now

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers,


Free agents could be offered contracts July 1. But they couldn’t sign them until the clock struck midnight on July 9 Eastern time.

DeAndre Jordan on Friday, July 3, verbally agreed to a 4-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks. He backed out of that late Wednesday night and at 12:01 Eastern time, he re-signed with the Clippers.

During a conference call Thursday, coach Doc Rivers was asked if he thought the moratorium time between when players could accept and then sign contracts should be changed. Rivers at first was funny.

“I think it’s great now,” he said. “I mean, what kind of a question is that?”

Then he got serious.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I do think guys need time. People, you know, they make this decision and make it seem like it’s so easy for anybody to make. These are career decisions that young people are making, and career financial decisions people are making. If the ebb and flow goes back and forth where a guy decides and then undecides and then changes his mind and goes back, that’s life.

“It happens every day in business, and it happens in our business. The difference, if you’re the team the guy committed to first, it’s a tough seven days. I’ve been through that; or eight days, or whatever it is.”