Since the team was moved to both San Diego and Los Angeles, the Clippers have made it to the postseason in back-to-back years on only two occasions, including last season's first-round appearance. The Memphis Grizzlies eliminated the Clippers in six games in the Western Conference quarterfinals and changes were made in the City of Angels.
Head coach Vinny Del Negro was relieved of his duties and posted a mark of 128-102 with the Clippers. His teams improved during each of his three seasons at the helm. Del Negro guided the Clippers, who were the fourth seed in this past summer's playoffs, to their first-ever Pacific Division title and they even reached the conference semifinals after the 2011-12 regular season.
Still, it wasn't good enough to keep Del Negro around and the team made a big splash for former Boston Celtics bench boss Doc Rivers. Rivers was acquired in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2015 draft and reportedly inked a three-year deal worth $21 million. The 51-year-old had served as Boston's head coach since 2004 and guided the storied franchise to six division crowns, a pair of Eastern Conference championships and the 2008 NBA title along with a 416-305 overall record and 59-47 postseason mark.
Rivers knows a lot is expected from the Clippers in 2013-14.
"The expectations are great. I don't want us to shrink from that at all. I don't want us to run from that," Rivers told the L.A. Times. "But what we've got to get our guys to understand is expectations are one thing. Realization is a whole different thing, and just because you're expected to do anything doesn't mean you've arrived.
"We have not arrived. We didn't win a playoff series last year. So we have a lot of work to do as a group. We should expect to do that work. We have to expect that it's going to be much harder and we have to embrace it and do it."
In all honesty, it cannot be that much harder for a team loaded with talent and depth. Point guard Chris Paul is arguably the best facilitator in the league and was even appointed president of NBA players' union. Paul liked what the organization did in the offseason so much, he opted to stick around and signed a deal through 2017-18. Paul averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 assists and 2.4 steals over 70 regular-season games in 2012-13 and led the NBA in steals per game in each of his two seasons with Los Angeles.
It was rumored Paul wanted Rivers as Del Negro's replacement and got his wish. Paul will play in an offense current Celtics guard Rajon Rondo thrived in and talked about one of his first meetings with the new coach.
"I've spent a little bit of time with Doc. We've talked a couple times but with all of us professional athletes and anything, you always want someone to push you and motivate you," Paul said. "The first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me that I wasn't anything. He told me that I hadn't done anything in this league and he was right. You don't always want somebody who's going to tell you everything that you want to hear."
The leader that he is, Paul is determined to push the Clippers deep into the postseason regardless of what expectations people have. Another season playing alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan has the Clippers favored to bring home another division title.
"For us, it's going to be all about the process. We can't control what people say or the hype or the expectations or the good things people say or the bad things that people say," Paul said. "I think for us, it's going to be about the guys in our locker room. It's about us coming in to practice every day and preparing and giving ourselves the opportunity to win. That's what you want at the end of the day. Us three as the leaders of this team, we've got to make sure that we come in and prepare hard every day and everything else hopefully will take care of itself."