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Clippers are title contenders and Doc Rivers is embracing that role

Clippers are title contenders and Doc Rivers is embracing that role
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said one lesson illustrated by Donald Trump's election victory was "never underestimate your opponent." And he said, "One thing this thing taught me again is how powerful the vote is. ... Rural Americawent out and voted. Inner-city America did not." (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Doc Rivers is in a powerful position.

He is the coach of the Clippers and the president of basketball operations, giving Rivers the final say on who plays on the court and who is hired in personnel matters.

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So as the man in charge of both jobs, Rivers was asked about his views on evaluating a team when he has dual roles.

"I guess as an executive you always look at the long-term project," Rivers said before the Clippers practiced Tuesday. "But as an executive, you're looking at winning too. As a coach, you're looking at the long term process. But you're probably looking more at the now.

"But it's not that big of a difference — no, not much."

Rivers has put together a team with championship aspirations.

He already had his core of DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick lined up for this season. He then re-signed Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers to big contracts in the summer.

Rivers also got veterans Marreese Speights, Alan Anderson, Brandon Bass and Raymond Felton to sign minimum deals.

Rivers wants this group to embrace the rising expectations and not run away from the challenge in front of the Clippers.

"Well, No. 1, it's not a burden. It's an honor. It really is," Rivers said. "I've never looked it as a burden. Why should people expecting you to win ever be a burden?  I've never figured that one out. You should be excited and happy any time you're in the NBA and you're on a team that people think you're good. That's a pleasure."

Waiting to play

The NBA opened its season Tuesday night, but the Clippers don't open their season until Thursday night at Portland.

So all the Clippers can do is watch and wait before they can play the Trail Blazers, who knocked them out of the first round of the playoffs last season.

"Even the first teams playing, everybody's nervous, but it's an anxious, not scared, type of thing," Austin Rivers said. "You just want to play already. We're excited. We're just going to go out there and hoop. It's going to be a fun environment considering that it's the team that knocked us out for the first game of the year. We've got our whole team back so do they. It's going to be an exciting game."

broderick.turner@latlimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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