June 15, 2021

Granderson: Clippers needed a new floor general, not a new sideline general

The Red Wedding from “The Rains of Castamere” episode has become cultural shorthand for a mass cleansing.

The Detroit Lions went red wedding on Saturday when they fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. Los Angeles was a VIP guest in 2017, when the Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss relieved her brother Jim Buss and longtime GM Mitch Kupchak of their duties, and the Kings eliminated coach Darryl Sutter and GM Dean Lombardi. The organizational slaughter was not restricted to the C-suite and the voices that embodied the old ways, but delivered to the roster as well.

This offseason the Clippers were expected to stage their own ceremonial departure from the past. After coughing up a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets, and failing to advance to the Western Conference finals for the 50th straight year, the belief among former players, executives and reporters with whom I spoke was that the firing of coach Doc Rivers was just the start. That everyone except Kawhi Leonard was on the trading block — including Paul George, Leonard’s running mate of choice if not, reportedly, The Claw’s first choice. Or even his second.

The point is, the Clippers’ collapse was about a flawed roster construction. Even with two of the NBA’s top 15 players, the Clippers lacked vocal leadership on the floor and were in desperate need of a starting point guard. Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo were all floated as possible solutions but after a weeklong free agency frenzy, Paul, Westbrook and Rondo are all playing elsewhere.

In fact, the roster pretty much looks the way it did against the Nuggets in Game 7, with the not insignificant swap-out of Montrezl Harrell for Serge Ibaka the notable exception. Not only that, the executive leadership remains intact.

The message is crystal clear: Owner Steve Ballmer believes the abrupt, ignominious end squarely falls on Doc.

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