By Kurt Helin
Among the many questions in the fallout from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist comments, there are the ones about what this does to the team on the court long term. What will this do to a team that is on the cusp of being a contender?
Will Doc Rivers return as coach? Will free agents still want to come to the Clippers?
Nobody is sure what happens next, but if the league is not decisive and strong with its punishment (if it is determined that is Sterling on the TMZ tape) things could get ugly.
Rivers was asked directly about next season and this was his answer, via Marc Stein of ESPN.
“Don’t know yet. And I’m just gong to leave it at that.”
The cynical response here is I can think of seven million reasons Doc River will be back with the Clippers next season, and each has George Washington’s picture on it.
But Sterling’s latest public mess changes things. Rivers never signed up to coach for Sterling, really, but now he has to answer why he did? Rivers admitted he had some idea of Sterling’s background but really hadn’t researched it much. He saw a basketball opportunity to help take a team to the next level and maybe challenge for a ring. And to get paid handsomely while doing it. He took it.
Like the guys in the locker room playing for each other now, Rivers is a basketball guy in a good basketball situation that would be hard for him to walk away from.
But will others walk into it? Maybe not.
Agent Chris Luchey was among several who told media members they would advice their clients not to play for the Clippers.
It’s one thing to say that now, it’s another thing to do it when there is a contract is there on the table. If a player is in a situation with options this is certainly gaining to factor in — they are king to have to explain to friends why they signed —but if they are getting offered more money to come to the warm weather and bright lights of Los Angeles to play on a contender? We’ll see if guys turn it down.
But some guys will say no, still. Others will think twice about t at least.
This is the legacy of Donald Sterling now. One that should have been there for a long time but now is exposed in the light.