PORTLAND, Oregon: Everywhere you looked, the Clippers season was being torn down around them.
The video equipment was packed up and headed out of the arena, the uniforms were gathered and the locker room was emptying.
Jeff Green, already dressed, sat in front of his locker quietly eating dinner. He opened a bottle, chugging nearly half.
“So good,” he said with satisfaction on his face.
For the first time in months, Green tasted Sprite.
Summer had started.
That’s how quickly everything can change
Minutes before, Green and the Clippers were on the court at Moda Center, undermanned but full of fight. It was a brutal game, with the Clippers getting, somehow, even more banged up. But, they survived, just coming up short.
There were lots of tears, lots of frustration with the opportunity that escaped them.
But, there was also the future.
While Coach Doc Rivers sat at the podium following the three-point loss Friday night, he said there’s not much of a mourning period, at least not for him.
“Oh I never stop thinking about improving the team,” he said. “I think about it every game, every day, so that doesn’t change for me. Literally every game when I’m coaching I’m watching too. I watch and read, and we’ll be ready.”
Rivers, who said he likes the talent level on his team multiple times before and after Friday’s game, was true to his word.
As he walked out of Moda Center, he vented about the inability to get things just right.
“We’ve got to,” he said.
The most logical addition will be on the wing, but that’s been something the team’s tried to address in each of Rivers’ offseasons at the helm.
The team drafted Reggie Bullock, re-signed Matt Barnes, acquired Jared Dudley, signed Hedo Turkoglu, signed Chris Douglas-Roberts and traded for Lance Stephenson in an effort to figure things out at that position. None of those players is currently with the team.
That’ll have to be addressed.
The futures of free agents Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Cole Aldrich, Austin Rivers and Green all need to be figured out. Paul Pierce may or may not retire.
You’d think those would be things that Doc Rivers would think about in the upcoming weeks, when the NBA playoffs wind down and the offseason picks up, and you’d be right. He’ll think about it then.
But, as he headed out of Moda Center on Friday night, he was thinking about it too.
Whether it’s a Sprite or the next roster addition, moving on to the next thing is the only thing the Clippers can do now.