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Doc Rivers reportedly once nearly left the Clippers for the Lakers

The Lakers have rather publicly pursued Doc Rivers this offseason, but a much more private pursuit years ago could have seen him join the franchise from the Clippers.

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LA Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers’ search for a head coach this offseason has been a rather slow and deliberate one. At least part of that is due to the team hoping for Doc Rivers of Philadelphia or Quin Snyder of Utah to become available.

Their desire to go after Doc has felt odd, largely because of his repeated playoff failures in recent seasons. While franchises like the Clippers have parted ways with him recently and the Sixersstance to hold onto him was a rather controversial one, the Lakers were still seeking him out.

The interest, though, makes a lot more sense with a little nugget in a recent article. Bill Plaschke’s latest piece for the LA Times was about what one would expect from him in 2022, but it did include a small sentence that certainly comes as new information.

If both sides really want this to happen, it should happen. Though it seems like a long shot, it still could happen, because here’s guessing Rivers wants it to happen.

In the past he’s always expressed his fondness for Los Angeles, and once nearly left the Clippers for the Lakers, and right now he is the perfect coach for this imperfect situation.

It had never been reported that Doc was anywhere close to leaving the Clippers for the Lakers and there were hardly any murmurs about the interest. There was a rumor back in 2019 when this apparent switch would have taken place based on the friendship between Magic Johnson — then holding down a spot in the Lakers front office — and Doc.

It led to Doc denying interest in the Lakers job, something that seems more relevant in light of the recent news.

At the time, Doc was in the midst of a season leading the Clippers that would feature an upstart roster earning the No. 8 seed and pulling off a memorable comeback against the Warriors in the first round before falling in six games.

Doc and the Clippers would land Kawhi Leonard and Paul George that offseason and that would spark a pseudo rivalry between the two sides. Even that, though, wasn’t enough to stop the Lakers interest in Doc.

Given the fact Magic is no longer around, the interest may have dampened a bit, but clearly not much as the team was far more openly pursuing him this time around. Fortunately, Doc seems set in Philly and the Lakers have moved on to a new set of finalists that don’t include him, but these calls are too close for comfort.

Hopefully, they’re the last ones.

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