Doc Rivers’ three-plus year stint as the president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Clippers ended on Friday. Here are his five worst moves.
On June 16, 2014, Doc Rivers was promoted to president of basketball operations with the Los Angeles Clippers. He remained the Clippers head coach, and had gained the final say in all personnel moves as well.
Combination coach-president is a weird and ongoing trend in the NBA. At the time, the likes of Mike Budenholzer and Stan Van Gundy were in both roles with the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons as well. Budenholzer resigned from his basketball operations role in May. Now Rivers is doing the same.
While Budenholzer didn’t receive a ton of flak in his dual-role, Rivers absolutely has. He loved to acquire also-ran veterans that either played for him with the Boston Celtics or were good back in 2010. Many of these acquisitions to Los Angeles did not end on the best of terms.
Here are the five worst moves Rivers made as president of basketball operations of the L.A. Clippers.
5. Trading Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets
Yeah, we largely forgot about this one. But we shouldn’t, as it is rather comical in the end. Josh Smith may no longer be in the league, but he was a near-All-Star-level player for his hometown Atlanta Hawks for about a decade. He was ultra-athletic, a great defensive player, played above the rim and had one ugly stroke from distance nobody but he could ever love.
When Budenholzer took over the Hawks, he punted on wanting to work with Smith, letting him sign a massive deal with Van Gundy’s Pistons in 2013 free agency. Smith’s Detroit experience was a complete disaster. The team should have exploded due to a front-court spacing quagmire between Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Needless to say, the trio could not play together.
The Pistons waived Smith and he became a free agent. His hometown buddy Dwight Howard helped convinced the Houston Rockets to pick Smith up off the waiver wire. He came off the bench for the Rockets for the second half of 2014-15. Smith would be the guy that shattered the Clippers’ Western Conference Finals with that gross 3-point stroke of his in Game 5 of the conference semifinals.
It was only natural that Rivers saw Smith play well against his team and traded for the also-ran power forward. All he ended up being was worse version of Blake Griffin, an athletic power forward that doesn’t shoot threes very well. Smith lasted about six months in Los Angeles before being traded back to the Rockets and fizzling out of the league. It was a typical Rivers front office move to want a guy that had one good game against his team.