Doc Rivers took his name off the list of potential replacements for Luke Walton, the embattled Los Angeles Lakers coach who will presumably be fired.
The Los Angeles Clippers coach told reporters Tuesday that he and owner Steve Ballmer have been working on a longer contract, one that would take care of the opt-out clause that kicks in this summer, the clause that has had people speculating about a crosstown move. The contract hasn’t been finalized yet — Ballmer said they’re still “dotting some I’s and crossing some T’s” — but Rivers was pretty definitive about his future.
“I have a job, and the Lakers have a coach. I’m going nowhere,” he said, via The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver. “I can tell you that straight and up front. I’m going to be here until Steve says, ‘Get out.’ ”
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Rivers wanted to send a message that LeBron James’s Lakers franchise isn’t the only destination for star free agents this summer.
“We both decided, let’s end this thing," Rivers said, referring to himself and Ballmer. “We both decided to take this [clause] out and extend and make it a longer deal. We’ve long decided on that and just chosen not to say anything about it. I’m here. My job is not done here. I came here for a lot of reasons. One of them was obviously to win a world championship. The other was to make this place a place people want to respect and come to.”
Ballmer said that news “sends a message to a lot of folks.” So does the Clippers’ 42-30 record after a 115-109 victory over Indiana on Tuesday night. The Clippers, in fact, are on the verge of a seventh playoff trip in eight seasons.
Rivers and Ballmer had agreed to a contract extension last May and, with the 31-39 Lakers foundering on the brink of missing the playoffs (which would be a first for James), speculation was rampant that Rivers might replace Walton. That can now end.
“We just thought we’d put that to bed,” Ballmer said, adding, “We want to be a clearly stable organization as we head into the summer. Now was the right time to do that.”
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