Storyline: Clippers Front Office

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Almost a Knick? West strongly shot down the notion, which was in circulation earlier this season, that the Knicks made a run at hiring him as a front-office consultant before the Clippers did. “No truth whatsoever,” West said. But he did surprise me a bit by revealing that he fully expected to land with the Knicks in the 1960 draft. The Lakers had the No. 2 overall pick and selected West before the Knicks were forced to settle for Darrall Imhoff at No. 3. Referring to the intense fan interest and media scrutiny in New York, West said: “I always thought that would be an interesting place to be.”

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Do the Clippers hold on to those picks and wait for July 2019 to make their next big free-agent push? Do they try to package one or both in a potential trade this off-season to pursue an established star like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard? Frank and Ballmer will ultimately make those calls, but West expects to have significant say. “I don’t just want to be a figurehead,” West said. “You want to be a part of the decision-making process. I don’t have the final decision here, but I do have a voice.”

Clippers, Doc Rivers agree to extension?

Although nothing has been made official, all indications are that Rivers and Ballmer have reached an agreement on a multiyear extension that will keep Rivers here for a remodeling job that will begin soon. This is big. This is cornerstone big. This is the Clippers setting the foundation for the post Lob City era with a guy who is coaching even better now than when he led them through the Donald Sterling crisis upon his arrival five years ago.
3 months ago via ESPN

When Altman visited with James in the Cavaliers’ practice facility a week ago, he let him know that there were still talks alive with the LA Clippers on a Jordan deal. What’s more, there was significant progress: Altman had ownership approval to send the Clippers Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick for Jordan. The Clippers were willing to accept the trade, but on one significant condition. Clippers general manager Michael Winger explained to Altman that LA didn’t want another shooting guard. He hoped to find a third team that would take Shumpert and his $21 million with draft compensation, and have the Clippers get a center back. Altman and Winger agreed to make more calls to try to find a third team to make the deal work. Winger wondered whether Altman would let him talk to Shumpert’s agent about a possible contract buyout, but Altman wanted trade talks to be further along before granting that permission.

There’s a price for that, though. Ownership has no interest in a Sixers-like rebuild, a team source told Yahoo Sports, but it’s hard to see L.A. as anything but middle of the pack. The Clippers were 8-8 without Griffin this season. Bradley is one of the NBA’s most underrated players, and Harris, at 25, is having his best season. Sure, if things break right — the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins will likely clear one team from the field in front of them — the Clips could make the playoffs … where a first-round butt-kicking awaits them.
4 months ago via ESPN

After serving as team president in the NBA’s coveted “dual role” of lead basketball executive and head coach, Doc Rivers is now a mere mortal in the first chair, a job for which he’s under contract through the summer of 2019. Sources with knowledge of the Clippers’ thinking say owner Steve Ballmer is eager to see what Rivers can do as a coach with more limited talented. With the Clippers playing a spirited brand of basketball after (and even amid) their late-autumn swoon, the powers that be have entertained no serious thoughts of a midseason shakeup.
4 months ago via ESPN

He might even agree, to an extent, with those who see him that way. “People are like, ‘Well, his dad [Doc Rivers] gave him his chance.’ Is that true or not? I don’t know. It might be,” Austin Rivers said. “[But] could it be that my pops knew how good I could be because he’s my pops? “He told me on the phone [when the Clippers traded for him in 2015], ‘If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just cut ways at the end of the year, keep it clean, and you can go on and try to figure it out.'”

Paul reportedly had issue with Austin, especially after Doc Rivers was unable to make a rumored deal for Carmelo Anthony that would’ve sent Austin Rivers, Paul Pierce and Crawford to New York. Rivers denies that he rejected a deal in order to keep his son and takes issue with criticism of Austin and how he coached him. “I don’t think we’ve really heard a former player actually say that. It was reported,” Rivers told The Vertical. “I think Austin, it will always be unfair to him, throughout his career. He was a McDonald’s All-American. I guess that was because of me. The game-winning shot against North Carolina? Somehow I made that shot. He was drafted 10th. I guess that was me, too. He’s always got to deal with extra crap. He’s an easy target. It’s very easy for reporters. Use his name, and you’ll get hits. I’ve told Austin this a lot. ‘Is it a fair shake? But the lifestyle you’ve been able to live growing up, you had that advantage.’ ”

They were sitting in a meeting on the eve of free agency, when one of the NBA’s icons captured the room for Blake Griffin. With owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers and Los Angeles Clippers teammates, Jerry West captivated Griffin, who made clear his desire to return. West had been hired as a special consultant with the Clippers, and the first task he had embraced was persuading Griffin to re-sign with Los Angeles. For all of the voices in the final meeting before midnight, West’s resonated, and Blake returned.

The Clippers pulled off one of several blockbuster trades in a wild NBA summer when they dealt Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, but it was Paul who wanted out of Los Angeles, not the other way around. And in an appearance on ESPN’s The Hoop Collective podcast with Kevin Arnovitz, head coach Doc Rivers admitted “there were a lot of reasons” why one of the best point guards in NBA history was ready to move on. “I think he was tired of hearing my voice,” Rivers said. “I think Chris is a guy who is very opinionated, wants to be coached ‘kind of,’ if you know what I’m saying, but wants a partnership as well. And it’s tough from a coaching perspective. You gotta have a partnership but at times, you’ve gotta make the call. I thought that bothered him.

On Monday, the former Lakers legend and Hall of Famer talked about his move south an interview with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. “Frankly it was very sad, OK? It really was. A place where I thought that if I was going to work another year or if somebody wanted me to work another year, I thought I could contribute; I did not want to leave. I did not want to leave. I was very happy there. But those things happen sometimes. Obviously to be around a bunch of players that were as together as any I’ve seen and I think more importantly the talent that was on that team and to see the joy. There’s a lot of joy there. I think those are the kind of environments where people really prosper.”
9 months ago via ESPN

Redden worked with Winger in Cleveland, where he rose in the executive ranks as a well-regarded talent evaluator who worked under Danny Ferry, Chris Grant and Griffin. He will complement Winger, who has established a reputation as an expert strategist with a steady administrative hand and strong negotiating skills. For years, the Clippers had among the thinnest staffs in the NBA under the thrifty ownership of Donald Sterling. Since the arrival of Steve Ballmer in 2014, the franchise has grown into a robust organization with a basketball operations department that has expanded exponentially in size. Sources say the team has plans to add another assistant general manager to its brain trust.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that Rivers did a great service to the franchise’s value, and to the NBA, with how he held together the organization and its star players through the tumult of the Sterling nightmare. Silver wasn’t necessarily against Rivers’ ascension to the top of the Clippers masthead, but the commissioner has privately expressed concerns to owners and senior franchise officials in several instances, case by case, about the dynamic of the coach-in-charge model, league sources said.

Rivers’ losing his front office duties isn’t so much an indictment of his individual fitness for the duties, but the fact that it is suited for no one coach in this modern era. For everyone trying to replicate the San Antonio dynasty, understand this: The Spurs have the greatest coach (Gregg Popovich) and greatest executive (RC Buford) of a generation. As much as it’s the ultimate model, it’s the ultimate aberration too. Popovich defers to Buford’s expertise and judgment, in ways that Minnesota president and coach Tom Thibodeau will likely never do with a GM.

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is returning Doc Rivers to the primary duty of head coach, freeing him of front office responsibilities, the owner told ESPN on Friday. Rivers, who held the title of president of basketball operations, will continue to have a strong voice in personnel and organizational matters and will partner with Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, Ballmer told ESPN Friday. Frank will now oversee basketball operations, including the general manager.

“I’ve owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner’s responsibility is — and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs,” Ballmer told ESPN on Friday. “The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn’t the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent minded people.

Do the Laker moves at all, do they affect you today?” Jerry West: “Well, what have they done? You know something, every year when people… I love Earvin Johnson, OK? I love him. I will admire him forever. But just because people do things doesn’t always make it right. How many times has the first player failed in the draft? Three times. Everyone gets excited about the draft. I’m excited even though the Clippers don’t have a draft pick at this point in time. Laker fans should be excited about it, they should be. But there’s so much more to this than meets the eye.

An official announcement is not expected until next week, another executive said, possibly as early as Monday. “Obviously, it’s attractive to him because he lives in the Los Angeles area and started his career as a player in L.A. with the Lakers,” one executive said. “This is the place for him to go because he’s looking for things to do still. He’s looking for another challenge.” Even after West met with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers, the team’s coach and president of basketball operations, on May 30 at the team’s practice facility in Playa Vista, the executives said West “twice changed his mind” before deciding Wednesday that he wanted to join the Clippers.

For one thing, Rivers isn’t leaving the Clippers. He’s owed $22 million-plus over the next two years, and he has the confidence of Ballmer. The Clippers didn’t promote Lawrence Frank to executive vice president of basketball operations, give him a long-term deal, only to tear apart the management structure months later. Ballmer, Rivers and Frank have worked to build out the front office and scouting department, and examine the processes of what they all agreed was the most important summer in franchise history.

The coach and president said there is a “50-50” chance the Clippers would either add someone from the buyout market or the Development League, a move that would require waiving someone else. The question came up because of an ESPN report Tuesday that the Clippers could be interested in forward Omri Casspi, waived last month by the Pelicans. While that move doesn’t appear likely, Rivers is keeping open the option of doing something. “We’re always looking at it,” Rivers said, adding, “We’re looking at everything.”
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May 26, 2018 | 10:03 pm EDT Update