Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers spoke about his desire to keep the current core of the team, led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, together for at least one more season, according to Rachel Nichols of ESPN.
He did acknowledge that he expects Paul and Griffin to opt out of their contracts after next season, however.
He also didn't seem terribly bothered by the prospect of a shrinking window of opportunity for the team to win a title:
But Rivers was confident that a healthy version of his team was among the NBA's best.
"How many teams are in the top five or top six in scoring and defense?" he asked, per Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. "Three, and we were one. The numbers tell us we’re really good."
The Clippers' season ended on a bitterly disappointing note when the Portland Trail Blazers eliminated them from the first round of the NBA playoffs in six games. The Clippers were hardly at full strength, however, as both Paul and Griffin were lost for the postseason due to injuries.
The Clippers continued to battle, however, a fact that Rivers expressed proudly in a press conference, per NBA TV:
Continued title contention requires the team's superstars to remain in Los Angeles, but they'll also need a solid supporting cast around them. Keeping that group intact as well won't be easy.
"They all want to come back," Rivers said of the team's pending free agents, per Bolch, "but they’ve all played well and so they’ve all made it more difficult."
Those free agents include forwards Jeff Green, Wesley Johnson and Luc Mbah a Moute, center Cole Aldrich and guards Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers. Keeping the deep bench intact next season will have a huge impact on whether the window to win a title is indeed closed or not.
But with superstars like Griffin, Paul and DeAndre Jordan in place, the Clippers remain legitimate title contenders. While people sometimes forget about them in the deep Western Conference, where the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder steal most of the headlines, the Clippers would have been a tough out for any of those teams had injuries not struck so harshly in the postseason.
A lot will be decided for the Clippers over the next two seasons. Rivers, for his part, seems more than ready to roll with the punches.
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