Falling short of expectations and coming up two rounds shy of playing in the NBA Finals, Doc Rivers is out as coach of Los Angeles Clippers.
Rivers confirmed his departure in a tweet to Clippers fans on Monday afternoon.
“While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them through,” Rivers wrote. “Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support.”
The team released a statement later Monday that framed Rivers’ departure as a “mutual decision” between Rivers and team chairman Steve Ballmer.
“I am immeasurably grateful to Doc for his commitment and contributions to the Clippers and the city of Los Angeles,” Ballmer said in a statement. “I am also extremely confident in our front office and our players. We will find the right coach to lead us forward and help us reach our ultimate goals. We will begin the search and interview process immediately.”
The Clippers had a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals and were on track to face the Lakers in the conference finals. However, the Nuggets won the final three games of the series and ended the Clippers’ season.
It was a significant failure for a team that had championship aspirations after signing two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency and trading for All-Star Paul George last offseason.
“We didn’t meet (expectations),” Rivers said following the Game 7 loss to Denver. “That’s the bottom line. I’m the coach, and I’ll take any blame for it. But we didn’t meet our expectations, clearly, because if we had, in my opinion, we’d still be playing.”
The series loss was also part of another troubling playoff debacle for Rivers in the playoffs. His teams have blown three 3-1 series leads and three 3-2 series leads and in the playoffs.
Chemistry issues plagued the Clippers during the regular season and playoffs, and Leonard indicated the Clippers didn’t play smart basketball against the Nuggets.
The Clippers were 49-23 in the Western Conference this season and finished second in the West, 3½ games behind the Lakers.
Rivers, who was the NBA’s coach of the year in 1999-2000, was 356-208 in this seven seasons with Los Angeles. His Clippers teams made the playoffs six times but never made it out of the second round.