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Rivers signs contract extension with Clippers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In his first significant move since taking over as the Los Angeles Clippers' new owner earlier this month, Steve Ballmer has persuaded head coach Doc Rivers to remain with the team for another five years.

Rivers has agreed to a contract that will keep him in Los Angeles through the end of the National Basketball Association's 2018-19 season, though specific terms of the deal were not disclosed by the Clippers on Wednesday.

"This is an important day for this organization," Ballmer, the former head of Microsoft who paid an NBA-record $2 billion for the Clippers, said in a statement.

"I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court.

"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. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team."

Rivers took over as head coach in June 2013 and guided the team to the best record in franchise history, at 57-25, last season and a second straight Pacific Division title.

However, he had threatened not to return for the 2014-15 season if disgraced former owner Donald Sterling remained associated with the Clippers.

Rivers was a steady voice of calm and reason during an ugly saga involving Sterling, who was banned by the NBA for life over racist remarks he made four months ago which sparked public outrage and caused sponsors to quit.

Following protracted legal wrangling, a California appeals court earlier this month rejected Sterling's last-ditch attempt to block the sale of the team to Ballmer, and the 58-year-old tech billionaire finally took over as the new owner.

"Steve has shown a clear and determined desire to make the Clippers one of the most elite, first-class and championship organizations in all of professional sports," Rivers, 52, said on Wednesday.

"We know we have work to do to get there, but I am motivated by the challenge and thankful for the opportunity to stand together with Steve as we continue to move toward our goal of winning an NBA title."

Entering his 16th season as a head coach, Rivers is one of just three active coaches, along with Gregg Popovich and Flip Saunders, to have won at least 600 NBA games.

A former Clippers point guard, Rivers was the NBA's 1999-2000 coach of the year and went on to lead the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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