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Clippers give Rivers five-year extension

AP

Doc Rivers is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers for another five years.

In Steve Ballmer’s first big move since taking over as the new owner, he gave Rivers a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.

Ballmer said Wednesday it was one of his top priorities to ensure that Rivers remains as the long-term leader of the team. Rivers was a stabilizing force for the franchise during the upheaval created by former owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks that led to his ouster after 33 years of ownership.

“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,” Ballmer said, repeating the “hard core” theme he uttered during last week’s fan rally.

Interim CEO Dick Parsons testified during Sterling’s court battle with his estranged wife to keep the team, saying Rivers would quit if Sterling was successful.

“I didn’t think I was going to have to, honestly,” Rivers said last week. “But I think a lot of us would have been willing to, for sure.”

Now, Rivers can settle in knowing he has a new owner who is passionate about the game and eager to support the team.

Rivers joined the team in June 2013 and added president of basketball operations to his responsibilities two months ago.

The 52-year-old coach guided the Clippers to the best record in franchise history at 57-25 and a second straight Pacific Division title last season.

World Cup set to begin

Belgrade REUTERS

A much-weakened United States should still be strong enough at least to reach the final of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, which begins in Spain on Saturday.

The defending champions, together with the hosts, will be strong favorites to reach the final of the marathon 24-nation event, while European champion France, a rejuvenated Croatia plus Brazil, Lithuania and Greece are likely to feature among the dark horses at the tournament, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14.

Although the U.S. will be missing virtually the entire top echelon of household NBA names — including Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony — it should still stroll into the final from their half of the draw.

The Americans completed their buildup with Tuesday’s 101-71 rout of Slovenia, one of the teams they could meet en route to the final, after emphatic wins against Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

A balanced United States outfit looks rock-solid in all departments, with Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and DeMarcus Cousins dominating the boards, while Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and fit-again Derrick Rose provide long-range firepower.

The team is coached by the iconic Mike Krzyzewski, who has guided Duke four NCAA titles and the national team to 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medals.