Rumors have indicated that the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to pry Doc Rivers away from the Clippers, but there could be a giant roadblock to those plans — LeBron James.
Many expect the Lakers to fire coach Luke Walton after this season ends, as the team stumbled in the first year of the LeBron James era and have already been eliminated from playoff contention. As rumors connecting Rivers to the Lakers have intensified, a new report from the SB Nation blog Sir Charles in Charge noted that Rivers is wary of joining a team with a player as involved as LeBron, who in the past has pushed out coaches he doesn’t like.
The report cited Michael Wilbon, who said on a recent episode of ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption— per Bleacher Report— that Rivers has been warned that LeBron James doesn’t want to be coached at this point in his career. The report added that the Clippers appear to be in better shape as an immediate contender than the Lakers, so it might not be worth the hassle for Rivers to jump over anyway.
Even before the report, Doc Rivers had been vocal that he had no desire to jump over to the Lakers.
“I’m going nowhere,” Rivers said, as quoted by The San Diego Union-Tribune. “I can tell you that straight and up front. I’m going to be here until [Clippers owner] Steve [Ballmer] says ‘Get out.’ I plan on being here a long time.”
Rivers is also quite established with the Los Angeles Clippers, recently eclipsing the 300-win mark and helping to make the team a contender, after hovering at or near the bottom of the Western Conference for years prior to is arrival.
Whoever takes over the Los Angeles Lakers — should Luke Walton be fired — would have quite a bit of building to do. The team was hit hard by injuries this year and failed to click, while also whiffing on plans to trade for talented big man Anthony Davis. The Lakers are expected to still be very active in free agency, but after signing LeBron James last offseason, the pressure for the team to pull itself out of the doldrums of the Western Conference is building rapidly.
There are other factors likely keeping Doc Rivers with the Clippers. Though he has maintained a close relationship with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, Rivers also has deep ties to the Clippers, including a tight relationship with owner Steve Ballmer.