Doc Rivers is out as head coach of the LA Clippers following a season that fell well short of championship expectations after the team landed All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer.
“Thank you Clipper Nation for allowing me to be your coach and for all your support in helping make this a winning franchise,” Rivers said in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday. “When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization.
“While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through. Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support.
“Thank you to all the players, coaches, and staff for helping us get here. Most importantly, thank you to the fans. We went through a lot, and I am grateful for my time here.”
Against the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers squandered a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals, surrendering double-digit leads of 16, 19 and 12 in the last three games of the series as the franchise’s Western Conference finals drought reached 50 years.
Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in three playoff series, having done so with the Clippers in the 2015 West semis against the Houston Rockets and with the Orlando Magic in the first round against the Detroit Pistons in 2003.
This team, though, was considered a championship contender from the moment the Clippers signed Leonard in free agency and traded for George.
After the Clippers completely unraveled for a third straight game in a 104-89 loss to the Nuggets in Game 7, Rivers said the title expectations were not too heavy for his team, even though the Clippers fell short of reaching what many thought all season would be a West finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We didn’t meet them,” Rivers said of the expectations. “That’s the bottom line. I’m the coach, and I’ll take any blame for it. But we didn’t meet our expectations, clearly, because if we had, in my opinion, we’d still be playing.”