Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George raised some eyebrows this past week when he accused his former head coach, Doc Rivers, of misusing him.
“During that whole process, we never worked on adjustments. We never worked on what to do differently,” George said on the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
“We’re just literally having the same shit happen over and over again. It started to play a trick on you like, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ We’re talking amongst each other, the conversation is like, ‘We’re going to be all right,’ the conversation should’ve been like, ‘Nah, we need to change.’”
“The way I was being used, I felt Doc was trying to play me as a Ray Allen or a J.J. Redick, all pin-downs,” George continued.
“I can do it, but that ain’t my game. I need some flow, I need some mixes of pick-and-rolls, I need some post ups, just different touches. Last season was hard overall.”
This week, Rivers responded to his former player.
“I enjoyed coaching him,” Rivers said of George.
“Ty Lue was sitting right next to me, so he better hope it’s not adjustments. It ain’t going to be much different. We lost the game and I think everybody needs to take ownership. Obviously, we can always do better. Players can get better. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll leave it there.”
Alabama went after Coach O hard after the game. https://t.co/SUduHNyY5I
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 6, 2020
As is usually the case, the truth here lays somewhere in the middle. George was correct to point out Rivers’ inability to adjust and adapt. That objectively cost the Clippers against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of last year’s playoffs, even if you take George out of the equation.
Absolutely nobody could figure out why he kept playing Montrezl Harrell over fellow center Ivica Zubac against Denver despite the latter being a more efficient option. The Clippers recorded a team-best 11.1 net rating when Zubac was paired with Leonard and George. With Harrell in Zubac’s place, the net rating was -30.1.
That said, George brought plenty of his own issues to the table. Multiple teammates seemed to dislike him, the way he carried himself, and the preferential treatment he received from the organization.
Imagine breaking into a house thinking you’re gonna find Kylie Jenner and finding a 6’6”, 220-pound NBA star instead.https://t.co/ZRN9T2pjYM
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 5, 2020
“Teammates had a level of acceptance of [Kawhi] Leonard’s preferential treatment, as his status as a two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP — the then-reigning Finals MVP, at that — was indisputable,” Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote this past week.
“But George’s treatment was more of an issue within the locker room, league sources said. George, while a perennial All-Star and All-NBA candidate, didn’t carry the same cachet with his teammates. There was a sentiment among certain teammates of, ‘What have you accomplished in the playoffs?’ multiple league sources said.”
George had a memorable dust-up with Harrell in Game 2 of the Denver series. It stemmed from a turnover by George that he refused to take responsibility for, prompting Harrell to reply with something along the lines of, “You’re always right. Nobody can tell you nothing.”
Yikes Scottie. https://t.co/OfGjnOyWpP
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 3, 2020
Then there was the time when George attempted to give his teammates a motivational speech, only to be met with “eye rolls and bewilderment.”
In addition there was that whole situation where Leonard’s trainer mercilessly clowned George’s basketball IQ – likely speaking at least in some capacity to the way Leonard views his superstar teammate.
All of which is to say – George brought his own fair share of issues to the table last year. And he contributed to the Clippers’ general dysfunction and ultimate disappointment as well.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 3, 2020
George likely realized this to some degree, since after the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast, he came out and tried to backtrack on his critique of Rivers.
“[Doc] is a helluva coach,” he said on Friday. “I respected him. The notion is out there that I don’t respect Doc or [that I was] putting blame on Doc. … Let’s clear that up.”
At this point, it’s probably safe to say there isn’t much love left between George and Rivers – regardless of what each man comes out and says going forward.