LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Doc Rivers says he’s out as coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, though he did not specify if he chose to leave on his own or if he was fired.
Rivers announced in a statement posted to Twitter that he is not returning as coach. The move comes about two weeks after the Clippers wasted a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals.
Rivers spent seven seasons with the Clippers, making the playoffs in six of them — a major success for a once-woebegone franchise. This season’s team, with the summer 2019 additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, was expected to compete for a championship.
But losing three closeout opportunities to the Nuggets cost the Clippers a chance to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the West finals, and surely played a role in Rivers not remaining as coach.
“When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization,” Rivers wrote in a statement. “While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through.”
The Clippers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. ESPN first reported that Rivers was not going to remain the Clippers’ coach.
The Clippers went 49-23 in the regular season, the fourth-best record in franchise history. Rivers has been the coach in five of the Clippers’ six best regular seasons.
Rivers thanked fans for their support.
“Though it was a disappointing end to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support,” Rivers said. “Thank you to all the players, coaches, and staff for helping us get here. Most importantly, thank you to the fans. We went through a lot, and I am grateful for my time here.”
The Clippers’ job becomes the sixth current vacancy in the NBA, along with Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and New Orleans. New York, Brooklyn and Chicago have already filled vacancies in their offseasons.
Rivers’ departure means the league also is down to four Black coaches with jobs currently: Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta, J.B. Bickerstaff in Cleveland, Monty Williams in Phoenix and Dwane Casey in Detroit. Rivers is the third Black coach to either step down or be fired this offseason, joining Nate McMillan in Indiana and Alvin Gentry in New Orleans.
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