This week, the LA Clippers stunned the NBA world by announcing that Doc Rivers has stepped down as head coach.
Rivers took over as head coach of the Clippers in 2013-14. They made the playoffs in all but one of his seven seasons at the helm, but they were never able to make it past the second round. This season ended in disappointment once again, with the Clippers blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Clippers will be looking to bounce back next season with a new head coach. Who is the best person to lead them as they pursue their first title? Our NBA.com Staff weighs in.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Ty Lue is the obvious choice to me. Not only is he already a part of this team's coaching staff, he's been in a similar position before, taking over as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after David Blatt was fired and leading the franchise to its first-ever title. Lue also has experience coaching stars, which will come in handy when it comes to getting the most out of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both on and off the court.
The tricky part is that Lue is reportedly a leading candidate for a number of openings in the league right now. If the Clippers want him to be their next head coach, they might have to move quickly.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I like the direction Scott is leaning but I'm going with a different member of the Clippers staff in Sam Cassell.
I think both Lue and Cassell are worthy of consideration for the job, but I give Cassell the edge because he has been with the organization longer and at this point, is deserving of his shot at the head job.
Cassell joined LA as a member of Doc Rivers' staff in 2014 and has been coaching since he retired from playing in 2009. He's been linked to the Houston Rockets coaching vacancy but I believe the preexisting familiarity makes Cassell the perfect candidate.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm with Scott on this one, I'm also going Ty Lue. I agree that he's the perfect candidate as someone who has been in a similar position before, taking over a Cavaliers team with superstar personalities, leading them to an NBA title.
Where I'll disagree: even though Lue is reportedly a leading candidate for other openings around the league, now that the Clippers job is open, I'd be shocked if he would make another move until this vacancy is filled. Coaching this Clippers team is without a doubt the most highly-touted job available this offseason. If he could be promoted within, I think Lue would be willing to wait it out until a decision is made.
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): In my opinion, it's got to be one of Ty Lue and Sam Cassell. I'm leaning towards the latter.
After getting eliminated in Game 7 at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Semifinals, Clippers' guard Lou Williams said "A lot of the issues we ran into, talent bailed us out, chemistry didn't."
That statement right there is why I believe it's got to be one of Lue or Cassell. Bringing in a new head coach will certainly not help the chemistry issues that this team needs to overcome in their second run at a championship next season. Why Cassell? Like Gil mentioned, he's been with the franchise longer - since 2014.
He has a longer and more established relationship with the core of the roster, which includes the likes of Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Patrick Beverley, that have been with the team before the 2019 offseason. If the Clippers are going to carry an advantage going into next season, apart from the plethora of talent on their roster, it's going to be continuity and promoting a deserving coach, like Cassell, from within their staff would certainly help that.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): The list of available coaches this off-season is strong, with Mike D'Antoni and Jeff Van Gundy reportedly in the mix, but I think it's got to be someone from within the organisation.
Cassell deserves a head coaching job, but at this point, given the chemistry issues and championship aspirations of the franchise, Ty Lue is the man for the job. He proved in Cleveland he is more than capable of managing a locker room of big personalities and star players and has a championship to show for it. As Scott said, they might have to act quickly with several other teams circling for his services.
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