Doc Rivers’ new five-year contract to be president and coach of the Los Angeles Clippers is worth more than $50 million, according to Yahoo Sports. New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer announced Rivers’ extension on Wednesday. The team replaced the remaining two years on his original three-year, $21 million deal with a new contract that runs through the 2018-19 season. Ballmer and Rivers had been eager to forge a long-term partnership since Ballmer purchased the Clippers from the Sterling family for $2 billion.
Through the release of the Donald Sterling audio tapes that led to his banishment by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Rivers became a pivotal figure in holding together the franchise’s value and keeping the team moving forward through the crisis.
After a 57-victory regular season, the Clippers reached the Western Conference semifinals, and return a roster expected to compete for a chance to reach the NBA Finals next season. Rivers won the 2008 NBA championship as coach of the Boston Celtics, and reached the NBA Finals again in 2010.
“This is an important day for this organization,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.” Rivers had told Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons that he was considering leaving the team if Donald Sterling remained its owner. Parsons testified as much during a probate hearing in Los Angeles that eventually paved the way for Sterling’s wife, Shelly, to sell the team to Ballmer for $2 billion. “Steve has shown a clear and determined desire to make the Clippers one of the most elite, first-class and championship organizations in all of professional sports,” Rivers said. “We know we have work to do to get there, but I am motivated by the challenge and thankful for the opportunity to stand together with Steve as we continue to move toward our goal of winning an NBA title.”
After Ballmer was introduced as the new owner of the Clippers two weeks ago, Rivers downplayed the reports of his imminent departure if Sterling was still associated with the team by the start of the season.
“I honestly didn’t think that was going to happen, you know, logically speaking,” Rivers said. “[NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] had already taken the team away. You know, I thought that took on its own life. It went from that to if the season starts and such and such is the owner, which I never said that part. It was true, though. Sometimes you do have to take a stand, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I didn’t think I was going to have to, honestly. But I think a lot of us would have been willing to, for sure.”
Rivers took over as head coach of the Clippers last June and led the team to its best record in franchise history (57-25) and a second straight Pacific Division title. After holding the dual role of head coach and vice president of basketball operations last season, he was promoted to president of basketball operations during the offseason.