NBA legend Jerry West leaving Warriors to join Clippers
Jerry West once threatened to quit his job as a special consultant with the Golden State Warriors if the team decided to trade Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. Three years later, The Logo reportedly is leaving Oakland — not out of animosity, but to take on a new challenge.
Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum first reported West has decided to accept the Clippers’ offer to serve a similar role in Los Angeles. The news came late Wednesday, the same day word leaked that the city of Inglewood would vote on a proposal to allow the Clippers to explore building a new arena.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob issued a statement on West’s departure (via USA Today’s Sam Amick):
“Jerry West has been an incredible asset to our organization over the last six years,” said Lacob. “He’s one of the most respected and successful executives in the history of the league and he certainly solidified that reputation during his time with the Warriors. We would have loved for him to remain with our franchise moving forward and conveyed that to him in recent weeks, but we respect his decision. He’s earned that right.”
West told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne he has yet to sign a contract with the Clippers, but he “knew” Game 5 of the NBA Finals was his final game with the Warriors. “I don’t feel old, I feel really competitive. Sometimes you need to be challenged. I’ve kind of been defiant my whole life,” West told Shelburne.
L.A.’s two biggest stars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, will be free agents this summer after they exercise their player options, and hiring West could help convince one or both to return to the Clippers next season. The fact that Steve Ballmer’s team can offer more money than any other team should help, too.
The question will be how much influence West has on Doc Rivers, who serves as head coach and president of basketball operations, as well as vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. For all his coaching prowess, Rivers has struggled as an executive to flesh out the rest of the roster around the Clippers’ “Big Three.” If Rivers is open to West’s advice, maybe Paul and his squad can break through to an elusive conference finals appearance.