It didn’t help that the team lost Blake Griffin due to a flagrant foul 2 while guarding Taj Gibson in the third quarter, but the Clippers had major droughts at various points of the game, managing to score just 11 points in the second quarter and 19 points in the third quarter. The worst part about the way they played was that the team was fully healthy – Doc Rivers used 11 different players during the game.
The Clippers are 13-10 on the season despite revamping the bench over the summer with players like like Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Wesley Johnson. They were 16-7 around this time last season, so things have not gone their way in terms of elevating their level of play.
After seeing them lose against the Bulls, well-known athletic trainer Tim Grover had some thoughts on the job Rivers has done as the coach of the team:
Clippers are a talented team with lots of style, but no identity or discipline. Time to bring in Thibs, and move Doc to the front office.
— Tim S. Grover (@ATTACKATHLETICS) December 11, 2015
In order for this to happen, Rivers would have to fire himself. More importantly, Tom Thibodeau is known for running players into the ground by playing them entirely too long, which is probably not something Chris Paul needs at this point of his career. Still, if there was any coach Rivers would feel comfortable about replacing him, it would probably be his former assistant.
The bigger issue, however, may be Rivers the front office guy more so than the Rivers sitting on the bench. Credit should go to him for managing to keep DeAndre Jordan over the summer (barely), but he gave his son Austin Rivers a two-year contract that not many teams would have given, which unfortunately should be considered an act of bias. Austin Rivers had some surprising performances in the playoffs to be completely fair, but only because he was allowed a usage rate that no other coach would have allowed in that situation. He also brought in a 38-year-old Pierce, who has been very limited on both ends of the floor this season, and Stephenson, who had built a reputation as a tumultuous and inconsistent player with the Indiana Pacers last season. Rivers also lost a key contributor in Matt Barnes, who just helped the Memphis Grizzlies win a game with this wild game-winner.
Of course, all the criticism will go away if Rivers can find the right mix of players and scheme to help turn the season around. That’s entirely doable, given that it’s still only December. If not, though, something may have to change for the Clippers, whether that’s a change in coach or change in the front office.
Jim Park is a blogger and Tweet of the Night author of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.