Now that Chris Paul has left for Houston, Doc Rivers faces an incredibly difficult task. J.J. Redick is reportedly out the door, and if the Clippers don’t re-sign Blake Griffin, they will suddenly be very bad. Don’t worry though. Austin Rivers is here to save the day.
The son of the Clippers coach/personnel guru has been on the team for the past three seasons serving as Paul’s backup and evolving from a terrible player to an average one. Since the Clippers were full of veterans, Rivers was the only young player of any value on the team, and probably would have been involved in any hypothetical talent upgrade trade.
According to a very juicy report from SportsCenter anchor Michael Eaves, the tension started as soon as the Clippers acquired Austin Rivers, who everyone seemed to loathe:
[Chris] Paul’s relationship with Doc Rivers started to deteriorate rapidly after the Clippers acquired Austin Rivers. Several members of the team felt Austin acted entitled because his dad was both the coach and the President of Basketball Operations. In the view of the tenured players, Austin Rivers never tried to fit in, and when players tried to address the situation with him, he still did not respond the way the core of the team wanted him to. It led to resentment within the locker room, which often played out during games. One of Paul’s biggest contentions with Doc was that Paul, and other players, felt Doc treated Austin more favorably than other players. He would yell at guys for certain things during games and practices, but not get on Austin in the same manner for similar transgressions.
If Eaves is correct, the Clippers had a chance to acquire Carmelo Anthony for Rivers and Jamal Crawford. This would have been a coup for L.A., but Doc Rivers turned down the deal, enraging Paul. In this rare case, both GMs involved look like morons here, Phil Jackson for proposing it and Rivers for refusing it.
But what really solidified Paul’s dissatisfaction with Doc was a proposed trade involving Carmelo Anthony last season. New York offered Carmelo and Sasha Vujacic to the Clippers in exchange for Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers, a deal to which Rivers ultimately said no. That event led Paul to feel that keeping his son on the roster was more important to Doc than improving the team. So, ultimately, Paul lost both trust and faith in Doc. As one league executive put it, “Chris despises Doc.”
This all aligns with what Glen “Big Baby” Davis ripped Doc for in February and what he said about Austin in June. If Austin Rivers cost his team both Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, then he has already cemented himself as an all-time NBA heel.