Mistakes happen. We sleep in a little too late or we forget to do a project. But for us, mistakes are simply, just that – mistakes. For the thirty NBA teams, mistakes cost them, potentially, tens of millions of dollars, a playoff appearance, or even a championship. They have been riddled throughout history. It can be draft picks (Blazers fans know what this is like), it can be free agency (can I get an amen from Knicks fans?), or it can be virtually anything else (in the case of the Kings, EVERYTHING ELSE). Thus, we present the worst mistakes from each NBA team over the past ten years.
The Los Angeles Clippers Biggest Mistake in the Past Ten Years
Many people think of the Los Angeles Clippers as a pretty good team. Things seem stable post the Donald Sterling era, and the ship has been navigating through calmer waters. They are contenders with legitimate aspirations of winning the NBA title. The Clippers have decent defense, great offense, and are a good team all-around.
The Beginning of the Mistake
The single biggest and worst mistake the Clippers made in the past decade was hiring Glenn “Doc” Rivers as Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and head coach. Make no mistake; Doc Rivers is a fantastic coach. He has been successful in that regard throughout his tenure. First, he made Orlando relevant and was awarded Coach of the Year back in 2000. He then moved on to the Boston Celtics, where he led the team, in the 2007-08 season, to its first title since 1986. He was then acquired by the L.A. Clippers via trade in 2013, in exchange for a first round pick. The problem with the hiring of Rivers lies in his other role, rather than his position as head coach.
The Real Mistake
After the Sterling fiasco came to a head in 2014, new owner Steve Ballmer promoted Rivers to President of Basketball Operations to go along with his coaching duties. Rivers’ record of acquisitions is interesting, to say the least.
Let’s start with Rivers drafting C.J. Wilcox with the 28th overall pick in 2014, despite Jordan Clarkson still being on the board. Wilcox is no longer with the team, while Clarkson is thriving for the other Los Angeles franchise. In 2013, the Clippers had no first round pick, due to the compensation to the Celtics as part of the Rivers acquisition. Rivers has yet to make a successful draft selection in his time with the Clippers.
Stubbornness in the Front Office
It was reported on ESPN that the Clippers have one of the smallest front offices in the entire league. The Clippers are said to have little interest in advanced analytics as they relate to basketball, as well.
Doc, what are you doing?
But the real issue with Rivers has been his roster acquisitions. Start with the re-signing of forward Matt Barnes for reasons unknown. How about Stephen Jackson, who played just nine games for L.A. before being waived? Or Antawn Jamison? Hedo Turkoglu? Danny Granger, for what exactly? Rivers re-acquired Jeff Green and Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis, both of whom played for him in Boston. Evidently, once a player has played for Rivers, Rivers is willing to re-sign him. Just ask the washed-up Paul Pierce and Ryan Hollins. Rivers continued his errors with his acquisition of Lance Stephenson from the Charlotte Hornets, only to then trade Stephenson, along with a future first round pick, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Green. That was a total waste of time and assets.
Of course, the coup de grâce, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, was the acquisition and re-signing of Austin Rivers. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that Austin Rivers is the son of Doc Rivers. The younger Rivers, though talented, has yet to blossom into the NBA talent that scouts predicted him to be when he was a lottery pick years ago. Nepotism is real, and society doesn’t generally take too kindly to it. In describing President Doc Rivers, the word incompetent may come to mind.
Not Everything’s Been Bad
Now, there’s been a few good things. The Clippers re-signed Chris Paul in 2013. They also acquired J.J. Redick that same year, in what was an excellent trade for them. They’ve kept veteran sixth man Jamal Crawford through the years, and he’s been a solid contributor for them. The Clippers may have the best starting lineup in the league, but their bench, with the exception of Crawford, is as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Of course, we cannot forget the farcical DeAndre Jordan signing. Mark Cuban is still upset over that. There’s an emoji somewhere to illustrate it. The Wesley Johnson signing was mind-boggling, as well.
Doc Rivers the coach has gotten precious little help from Doc Rivers the President. As a coach, his pedigree is unquestioned, but as a front office leader, Rivers has obviously failed. All of the Western Conference contenders have strengthened their rosters this off-season (save for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost Kevin Durant), except the Clippers. Why do you think that is? This off-season, there was a major salary cap increase. So much so, that the best team in the conference acquired the best player in the conference via free agency. Why were the Clippers unable to make a move? Could it be that they have no assets to trade? Have they exhausted all options available to them as a team? It all leads to back to Rivers.
The Ultimate Consequence
Leading the Houston Rockets 3–1 in the 2015 Western Conference Semi-finals, the Clippers found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Game 5. The team was mentally and physically manhandled by the Houston Rockets and proceeded to lose the series in seven games. L.A.’s pitiful bench was exposed throughout the latter half of the series. In 2016, the Clippers were knocked out in the first round by the upstart Portland Trail Blazers. The saga continues, as does Rivers’ Los Angeles tenure.