Clippers fire Hughes as interim head coach
The Clippers wasted no time making their first offseason change,
firing interim head coach Kim Hughes on Thursday in the team’s
third major shake-up in 2 1/2 months.
The team said on its Web site that Hughes had been dismissed
and the search for a new coach was already under way, although
there were no leading candidates.
Hughes took over as interim coach for Mike Dunleavy on Feb. 4
after seven seasons as an assistant and went 8-25 the rest of the
way. The Clippers ended another losing season Wednesday night with
a 107-91 victory over the playoff-bound Lakers.
The Clippers finished with a 29-53 record, missing the
playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. They were 8-33 on the road,
their worst mark away from home since 1999-2000, when they went
Hughes’ tenure began with a five-game losing streak. There
were skids of eight and seven games, too. His contract was to
expire June 30.
“I loved it,” he said Wednesday night about his first head
coaching stint after seven years as a Clippers assistant. “It’s
fun, you’re working under stressful situations, your hands are tied
“I got the opportunity I wanted and deserved.”
Although Hughes didn’t know if he would be around next
season, the timing of his firing surely came as a surprise. He was
scheduled to conduct player exit interviews on Thursday and attend
coaches’ meetings on Friday.
“The difficult thing will be after Friday afternoon when
you’re done with the players’ exit interviews and the coaches, what
about me?” he said. “It will be tough then.”
Hughes was sanguine about working in such uncertain
“It’s not a normal situation, but it’s OK, it’s what it is.
If I didn’t like it, I could leave,” he said.
Hughes said he tried to coax the best efforts out of his
players, and he didn’t hesitate in benching star Baron Davis for
missing a shootaround on the road. He was unusually candid with the
media and his players.
“My whole goal is to get the most out of them,” he said. “If
I’ve got to cajole them into doing something, if I’ve got to
embarrass them, so be it.”
The Clippers have nine free agents, and Hughes said he didn’t
get an honest effort from those players.
“But I understand that. With free agency, when you have nine
guys that are looking for No. 1 first, that’s human nature. Their
objective is to get a contract for next year first,” he said.
The team said the rest of the coaching staff would stay on at
“This season was an overall disappointment and certainly fell
short of both our expectations and what should rightly have been
anticipated by our fans,” team president Andy Roeser said in the
statement. “We will move deliberately and productively to regain
the successful competitive position we had all hoped for when this
past season began.”
The Clippers were doomed to also-ran status in the powerful
Western Conference a day before the season began when it was
announced that No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin had broken his left
kneecap in the final preseason game. He was sidelined the entire
Dunleavy stepped down as coach to focus exclusively on his
general manager duties in early February, then he and the team
severed ties completely on March 8. Neal Olshey took over as GM.
Roeser said the return of five key players already under
contract, the team’s salary cap flexibility, facilities, and strong
fan base make the Clippers’ coaching job “extremely attractive.”