The Los Angeles Clippers have promoted Doc Rivers to president of basketball operations as part of a front office re-structuring, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, rewarding the head coach after a tumultuous season.
Previously working under the title of senior vice president of basketball operations, this announcement strengthens Rivers’ influence over the Clippers’ off-court management. Some other executives received new titles, too: David Wohl is general manager, Gary Sacks is assistant GM and Kevin Eastman is vice president of basketball operations.
In many ways, the announcement is designed to clarify Rivers’ spot at the top of the chain of command. This was likely important after what Rivers went through while coaching the team in recent months, with some wondering if the Donald Sterling controversy would be enough to push the future Hall of Famer away.
Rivers’ addition was a big part of the Clippers’ progress in 2013-14, which included an improved Blake Griffin and an already-good offense becoming the league’s best. Of course, the team eventually fell short in the playoffs to the OKC Thunder, though it’s hard to know how much the ownership distractions played into those struggles.
Going forward, this announcement does seem to settle things in the front office for now. Wohl, a former assistant under Rivers in Orlando and Boston, was previously the director of professional scouting, so he actually leapfrogs over Sacks in the front office hierarchy, as Pro Basketball Talk notes.
But most importantly, it makes Rivers more likely to stick around long-term. Given the positive influence he had over the team last year, and his general reputation around the league as one of the game’s brightest minds and greatest people, this is a positive step forward.