Doc Rivers Reportedly Considering Leaving Clippers, Joining Magic for Next Job

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 11: Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, questions a call in the second half of the game against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center on January 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers is being linked with a potential return to the Orlando Magic, with whom he began his coaching career in 1999, ahead of an offseason of uncertainty in L.A.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported Saturday there's been "persistent chatter" around the league about the possibility of Rivers returning to the Magic, though a timetable for the move is unclear. The speculation comes as Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin head toward unrestricted free agency in July.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan is on the hot seat, and it's "increasingly likely" the franchise will let him go after the 2016-17 season, according to Stein. That would open the door for Rivers, who's also the Clippers president of basketball operations, to take on a role similar to his current one if he did land in Orlando.

Stein also noted Clippers owner Steve Ballmer may decide to change the organization's structure if it would increase the odds of it keeping Paul and Griffin. That could mean a coaching switch or asking Rivers to give up his roster-building role.

Los Angeles is fifth in the Western Conference with a 40-29 record. It will soon clinch its sixth consecutive postseason berth and its fourth since the coach's arrival in 2013.

A lack of playoff success is a concern, though. The Clippers haven't advanced beyond the conference semifinals in any of those postseason appearances.

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L.A. has a 4-6 record in its past 10 contests, including a current three-game losing streak.

On Wednesday, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times passed along comments from Rivers about his team's outlook with the playoffs on the horizon.

"I like where we're at," he said. "I would like to be playing better, but I think we will. I have a lot of confidence in where we're headed. So, I don't look at it as negative as the outside world looks at it.

"I don't think we are struggling. I think we're playing OK. We're not playing great. I just think there are times—and I'm just being honest—we're looked at in a different lens."

The road to the NBA Finals—and a potential championship—is crowded with major hurdles, though. A title run would likely have to include three series wins over some combination of the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors and then a victory against the Eastern Conference champion.

If the Clippers bow out early again, their coaching staff and roster could look a lot different by the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

Returning to Orlando may give Rivers plenty of power, but it would be a massive undertaking for the coach, who's most recently guided teams with a Big Three. The Magic own the league's fourth-worst record at 25-45 and will need to acquire some star power through the 2017 NBA draft or free agency in order to climb back into playoff contention.