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Clippers continue to shake things up: Doc Rivers removed from position as head of basketball ops

It’s cuz he gave his son that contract, huh?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers have been on a strange path since losing star Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. They did manage to re-sign Blake Griffin in addition to bringing over highly heralded Serbian 30-year-old star point guard Milos Teodosic. But they also signed former Knicks and Nuggets wing Danilo Gallinari, who promptly decided the best way to fit in with his new team was to pull a Blake Griffin and break his hand punching some other dude in the face.

Now, we are laughing at the Clippers for yet another reason. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today, Doc Rivers has been removed (or stepped down, or whatever) from his position as head of basketball operations.

Steve Ballmer broke the news himself this morning, via Woj:

"I've owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner's responsibility is -- and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs," Ballmer told ESPN. "The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn't the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent-minded people.”

Lawrence Frank has spent time on the coaching sideline, most notoriously running afoul of Jason Kidd when the two men were both in Brooklyn. The move from Ballmer isn’t earth shattering, as Frank had already assumed control of the non-coaching, day-to-day duties of the front office sometime last year. But there is one thing that I promise you Frank wishes he could have handled differently: Austin Rivers. Yup, that’s right. Did you hear all those rumors about how Chris Paul left the Clippers because he had grown to despise Doc Rivers because of his “preferential treatment” of his own kid?

If you hadn’t heard, here are a couple paragraphs from a Facebook post by ESPN’s Michael Eaves, written not too long after Paul had signed with Houston:

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.

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."

If I could, I would inject this Clippers-tension into my bloodstream and let it course throughout my body. It is pure, uncut adrenaline for any Warriors fan.

We’ll never know exactly why Ballmer made this move, but I’d have to guess it’s a continued sort of fall out from the Chris Paul debacle. Either way, I think the Clippers are honestly better suited being set up in this fashion. Rivers never proved to be any sort of masterful front office personality. Neither has Frank, yet, but with so many changes in Clippers-land, this move makes sense and could potentially bring more stability to the franchise.

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