The Clippers have lured legendary player and executive Jerry West away from the Golden State Warriors to serve as a consultant in LA, and the team reached a pending agreement with Inglewood on a deal that would bring a state-of-the-art stadium to the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Whether either move reaps rewards for the Clippers sooner rather than later remains to be seen.
A Hall of Fame player whose silhouette serves as the NBA’s logo, West acted as either a coach, scout or general manager for the Lakers from 1976-00, helping build a pair of dynasties for the franchise. He captured a second Executive of the Year honor while serving as GM of the Memphis Grizzlies from 2002-07, and then joined the Warriors as an executive board member in 2011. West is widely credited for advising Golden State’s brass to keep Klay Thompson rather than trade him for Kevin Love.
The Clippers’ addition of West will bring stability to a front office that’s been shaky in the years that Doc Rivers has tried to balance duties as both coach and general manager — and well before his hire in 2013, for that matter. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who paid $2 billion for the team when the NBA wrestled it away from controversial owner Donald Sterling in 2014, conceded the arrangement was not working, appointing Lawrence Frank as executive vice president of basketball operations last year.
West, 79, suffered a health scare in January, but returned to the Warriors in good spirits shortly thereafter. He was reportedly enticed by the idea of returning to LA, where he has made his home for the most part since becoming an icon there as a player and executive over the past half-century. Additionally, West’s son Ryan, who currently serves as director of player personnel for the Lakers, could join his father in some capacity with the Clippers this summer, according to the Los Angeles Times.
With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka assuming decision-making duties on the Lakers and Golden State in good hands as a budding dynasty, West found his next NBA challenge with the Clippers. The deal is expected to be finalized within a week, according to reports. Along with Rivers, Frank, general manager Dave Wohl and assistant GM Gerald Madkins, West will more than have his hands full this summer.
Jerry West: "There are no basketball experts. There are people who have a better educated guess." Who isn't still trying to learn the game?
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) June 14, 2017
Paul’s potential interest in the San Antonio Spurs has been rumored ever since the Clippers lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, and re-signing the oft-injured Griffin also raises concerns. Both will likely command max contracts on the open market, and the Clippers have to consider whether re-signing both and bringing back a core that’s never even reached the conference finals — despite injuries that may have prevented that from happening over the years — is the wisest move. Even if Rivers has publicly contended he wants to keep Paul and Griffin in LA at whatever cost.
And that doesn’t even include the future of fellow free-agent J.J. Redick, a 32-year-old sharpshooter whose been an invaluable asset and will undoubtedly receive offers approaching $20 million a year.
Still, the Clips may have no other choice but to try and bring them all back. Half their 2017-18 salary cap is committed to DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers and Wesley Johnson, and max contracts for both Paul and Griffin would leave no salary cap space to chase high-priced free agents. This is a difficult road to navigate, and West’s voice will surely help steer the difficult decision-making.
Ballmer will certainly push to keep the team competitive in the league’s second-largest media market, especially if he could be spending close to another billion dollars on a new stadium in Inglewood.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the city council is expected to vote Thursday on a temporary agreement that would give Ballmer three years to begin building a new stadium on a 298-acre site across from where Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke is erecting a new NFL arena. The Clippers currently share the Staples Center with the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings and have a lease to play in the building until 2024.
The arena would have 18,000 to 20,000 seats, include on-site parking and be "state of the art," according to the agreement.
— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) June 14, 2017
The Inglewood/Clippers agreement broaches the possibility of using eminent domain to take private land for the arena.
— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) June 15, 2017
Ballmer has long been open about his desire to build a new stadium and would assume the entire cost of the project in Inglewood, the Times reported. The deep-pocketed former CEO of Microsoft and his team will reportedly have six months to submit plans for the building to the city, should the council approve the agreement and his newly formed Murphy’s Bowl LLC decide to move forward.
The only question then will be what the Clippers will look like under West’s guidance when they move.
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