Chris Paul’s departure from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets has both teams headed in the opposite direction at the end of this past season. The Rockets won a league-leading 66 games, and boast the game’s best offense. The Clippers are out of the playoffs for the first time in five seasons and face some uncertainty headed into next year.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is reportedly expected to resume his duties for the team next year in spite of his lack of a playoff spot. It seems his relationship with the Clippers’ front office remains intact.
However, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Rivers’ failure to foster a strong relationship with Paul led to the point guard’s decision to bolt to Houston.
Following from ESPN,
After Paul exited for Houston, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer reached out to his former point guard. As a relatively new owner, Ballmer wanted to learn from his organization’s mistakes and invited Paul to share his thoughts about the current state of the franchise and, more pointedly, his reasons for leaving. When the two met over breakfast, league sources say, Paul stated that Rivers was one of the contributing factors.
Since Paul’s move last summer, both he and Rivers have exchanged opinions on what exactly happened between the two of them. Rivers most notably said that “the grass isn’t always greener” in response to Paul chasing success elsewhere. In the same interview with ESPN in October, Rivers scrutinized Paul’s leadership style.
“I thought when Chris rubbed guys the worst was when he messed up,” Rivers says, “because when you mess up, you gotta take it. I didn’t really think he did.”
Paul and Rivers together brought the Clippers back to the precipice of relevance but came up short on the ultimate goal of winning a title. One can’t help but to wonder if the two would have been willing to work it out had one or two playoff series broke differently. It appears the adage “winning cures all” could apply to this lost relationship.