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Doc Rivers looks back on Thunder’s Chris Paul and his time with Clippers

Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Clippers, Thunder, Pistons, Nets

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers are a little over two years removed from the “Lob City” era. Doc Rivers is still coaching the Clippers, but Chris Paul has been traded twice since his decision to move on from L.A. Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons back in early 2018, and DeAndre Jordan is playing for his third team since leaving in free agency in the summer of 2018.

On the outside, it’s easy to look back at this era and deem it a failure considering the team never made it out of the second round of the playoffs.

From their move to Los Angeles in 1984 until the 2010-11 season, their last before acquiring Chris Paul, the Clippers franchise saw only two winning seasons. The 1991-92 season saw them win 45 games led by Danny Manning and Ron Harper. The 2005-06 Clippers won 47 games on the backs of Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, and Sam Cassell.

So when Paul arrived, the franchise and its fans saw five straight seasons over 50 wins, including a franchise-record 57 wins in the 2013-14 season. In fact, no team had more wins or a better record during the five-year span from 2013-2017.

The ultimate goal, however, is to win the NBA championship, which can only be done in June. Those Clippers never could close the deal and neither could Paul’s next team, the Houston Rockets. It was a combination of bad play, bad luck, and probably a sprinkle of the Basketball Gods’ wrath.

Along with Houston, Rivers’ Clippers had to make the tough decision to move on from the most successful era of basketball the team had ever seen.

“All those are tough, but you have to be honest with yourself at times,” Rivers admitted in response to a question about the Paul trade. “‘Like, can this group win it?’ And if you think, ‘no,’ then you gotta make changes. That’s what we did obviously and that’s what Houston did.”

With the Paul-led Oklahoma City Thunder in town to face the new-look Clippers, head coach Doc Rivers explained what Chris Paul meant to the Clippers franchise and how his time should be looked back on.

“It was great,” replied Rivers on Paul’s time in L.A. “Obviously … None of us won a title, but him, Blake, DJ started this franchise in a lot of ways. Or restarted it. They started a tradition of winning. The next step is being THE winner, but there shouldn’t be a negative at all in that.”

The nine-time NBA All-Star didn’t echo the same sentiments when given the opportunity, but still expressed the jov he had in those days.

“Oh, that’s a long, long, long, long story, you know what I mean,” Paul said with a smile. “But it was a good time. I stay in contact with them guys. Everybody’s on different paths now, but it was a fun time.”

The Clippers and Paul have both moved in completely different directions. Paul is helping direct a young squad in Oklahoma City while his former team remain the odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship after landing both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in free agency this summer.