The challenge now, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday after he agreed to a contract extension, is to build a sustainable future and culture.
It started with Rivers agreeing to a two-year extension that will keep him with the team through the 2020-21 season.
He had one year left on his five-year deal that will pay him about $11 million next season. Rivers and the Clippers didn’t reveal any financial details of the extension.
But Rivers no longer has the dual role of coach and president of basketball operations, having been stripped of the latter job by owner Steve Ballmer last August so Rivers could fully invest in coaching.
Rivers said he was happy to remain with the Clippers and that both sides were satisfied with the deal.
“For me, man, it was something that was going to happen,” Rivers said. “I just wanted to make sure that we were all right. Everything is good. I’m really looking forward to the future.”
Rivers has been with the Clippers for five seasons, but last season missed the playoffs for the first time since he arrived in 2013.
After dealing with a rash of injuries, they still went 42-40 and battled for a playoff spot in the Western Conference in the final days of the regular season.
“Doc is one of the top coaches in the NBA, coming off one of his finest seasons since joining the Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement. “We trust Doc to lead a competitive, tough, hard-working team while upholding a culture of accountability expected to resonate throughout the organization.”
The Clippers prefer to say they are trying to reboot, not rebuild.
However, so much of their future hinges on what decision center DeAndre Jordan makes. He has until June 29 to either opt in or out of his contract that is worth $24.1 million for next season.
Rivers only would say that “DJ and I stay in contact.”
Austin Rivers has until June 22 to opt in or out of his contract that will pay him $12.6 million for next season. Wesley Johnson opted in on his deal for next season at $6.1 million.
Milos Teodosic has until June 24 to opt in or out of his contract that will pay him $6.3 million for next season. He is guaranteed $2.1 million if he opts in and the Clippers decide to waive him.
Montrezl Harrell — who averaged career highs in points (11.0) and rebounds (4.0) — is a restricted free agent, but the Clippers can match any offer he gets.
The Clippers also have to decide if they are going to re-sign unrestricted free-agent guard Avery Bradley.
The Clippers can make a dent in their retooling with their two lottery picks, Nos. 12 and 13, in the NBA draft on June 21.
They also could seek help via the free-agency market, which opens July 1.
The Clippers probably won’t have a lot of salary-cap flexibility this summer to offer a maximum salary to, say, LeBron James or Paul George if they opt out of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents this summer.
But the Clippers could be big players next summer when they will have cash to spend on someone such as Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler if they opt out of their contracts after the 2018-19 season and become unrestricted free agents.
“The challenge is to make the right decision,” Rivers said. “We’ve got a lot of big decisions ahead of us. Some are out of our hands. You can never worry about those. You can work on trying to make those go right for you. But other than that, we just got to work our butts off, build the right culture.
“We’ve had talent here and we’ve proven that. We’ve never had like the perfect culture. We have a chance to build it right this time and hopefully get it right. If we do, we’ll have a chance of winning soon.”