The Los Angeles Clippers are again sitting home watching the remainder of the NBA Playoffs play out after another disappointing exit.
It’s become an annual pain for the Clippers and their fans.
But this season was key because the Clippers enter the offseason with plenty of uncertainty about their future when it comes to core players such as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Both Paul and Griffin have an early-termination option in their contracts that can be utilized this offseason and JJ Redick is an unrestricted free agent.
With 3 of the Clippers top players facing potential free agency, the team is hoping that they can keep the core together.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers believes in their core players and want’s to see their legacy legitimized with a championship.
“I don’t know. I think they deserve a chance to win. They have built this legacy. I do believe that,” Rivers said (h/t ESPN).
“Whether that’s what we decide to do that or not. There’s a big part of me that believes (in them). These guys are responsible for the birth of our franchise in a lot of ways. They consider themselves Clippers. … I would love them to shepherd that through. Whether that happens or not, it’s too early to make all those decisions or they’ll make them for us. But I do have a strong belief in that.”
The Clippers don’t only need to retain their key players but they need to diversify their roster after falling short to the Utah Jazz in their best-of-7 playoff series.
“We need length,” Rivers said.
“We need more length and two-way players. Again, that’s easy to say. Little harder to do with the way our contracts are. We may continue to do what we’ve done or we may decide to change our contracts and have more flexibility.”
Although there are plenty of questions facing the team this offseason, Rivers is looking forward to the task at hand.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Rivers said.
“I’m a driven human being. I can tell you I do this for one reason and that is to be the winner. I decided a while ago I no longer want to be in the party; I want to be the party. Like I tell my players, when you set yourself up that way, you’re going to have a ton of disappointment. I told them that four years ago. Unfortunately, so far I’ve been right. It’s the only way to go, as far as I’m concerned.”
Rivers also spoke about Griffin’s recovery from a toe injury that kept him out of the final 3 games of their series with the Jazz saying; “He’s doing well … The surgery went better than we thought.”
When asked about if he believes Griffin will opt out, Rivers replied; “I guess. I don’t know. I have no assumption.”
Rivers also has to decide if he wants to keep the same workload he has been taking on with the Clippers. Along with being the head coach, Rivers is also president.
“It is hard, that’s why I hired Lawrence (Frank)” Rivers said.
“People don’t realize Pop (Gregg Popovich) has been the president a long time. Clearly, it can be done but you’ve got to have great help. (General manager) R.C. Buford and that entire staff does. Pop really coaches the team. He’s involved. That’s the same system we’re at. I hear that it’s hard to do both. I’m doing the same thing. We’ve hired a million people. Half of them, I’m still learning their names. Lawrence is running the team in that way, but I’m still the president. I really believe more now that it’s a good way of doing it.”
The Clippers have an important offseason ahead of them, a crossroads of sorts, and it will dictate the immediate future of a franchise that has suffered it’s fair share of playoff heartbreak over the past few years.