Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier Clippers coach Doc Rivers would depart the franchise one season into his three-year contract if Donald Sterling remained in control of the team. He followed with speculation that a player mutiny could follow, featuring the likes of stars Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan.
With this afternoon’s eloquent, poignant, and emotional press conference from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, however, it’s hard to believe Rivers will be going anywhere.
No longer will he have to say, “I don’t want to answer that question,” when asked about his future in LA. He may even smile when he meets with the media before his club goes out and thrashes the Warriors in what’s sure to be an inspired performance in tonight’s Game 5 at the Staples Center. The biggest win of the day already took place off the court in Manhattan.
It will be months, maybe weeks, before the owners inevitably vote to force Sterling to sell the franchise, and that will be followed by new questions, like whether the new owners will be interested in relocation (Seattle, anyone?). But, even if that did occur – not that it would if Magic Johnson has anything to do with buying the team – it obviously wouldn’t happen before the 2014-15 campaign.
Rivers will be at the helm and his locker room, pending free agency or offseason trades, will remain intact.
Silver was asked if current Clips would be free to explore free agency while Sterling still owns the team, to which he replied, “If a player in the future doesn’t want to play for the Clippers and is under contract, we’ll deal with that.” He did add that he doesn’t foresee that happening.
None of those marquee players were heading to the Hub anyhow. The cap space isn’t there and the trade exceptions aren’t enough.
Circling back to Rivers, I still can’t help but wonder: The coach knew exactly the type of man he was going to work for when he signed on in Los Angeles last summer. Racism shouldn’t be the tree that falls in the woods. Sterling’s reputation was well known years, even decades ago. Hearing deplorable remarks in an audio recording shouldn’t be the straw that broke the camel’s back when it clearly existed behind closed doors and in reports for a long, long time. Nevertheless, that doesn’t matter now.
Sterling is out and, though he’ll likely fight the verdict, he will soon be forced to sell his beloved team, filled with the players and staff he loathed for the color of their skin. One of those men, Rivers, will inevitably remain, unified with the rest and those like-minded to hang the organization’s first banner – with their former boss and owner nowhere in sight.
Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMKaufman