Jerry West, who spent the last six years as a special consultant with the Golden State Warriors, is leaving the reigning NBA champions to take a similar job with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum.
When asked about the Clippers job, West told Shelburne “I’m very intrigued. This owner, [Steve Ballmer] is a winner and he wants to win.”
In May, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported West was considering leaving the Bay Area for Southern California since his contract with Golden State was set to expire at season’s end. However, Warriors owner Joe Lacob was adamant the team wanted West to return after he helped advise the front office during its transformation into a title contender.
“We want him back,” Lacob told the Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami. “We love him. He’s been a great contributor to the organization, someone I consider a personal friend as well. We would love him back (beyond this season), and we’ve made that known.”
Shortly after the news of West’s departure broke, Lacob expressed a similar sentiment in a statement relayed by USA Today’s Sam Amick: West, 79, will now head to the Clippers—who are facing a slew of big decisions this summer with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick all slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Logo could also be an asset to the Clippers when it comes to recruiting free agents. Last July, West reportedly made what turned out to be a successful pitch to Kevin Durant about joining the Warriors.
This summer, West could be tasked with giving LeBron James a call as the Clippers eye a viable path toward title contention. On Wednesday’s episode of The Vertical Podcast with Woj (h/t NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman), The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski fueled speculation that LeBron could bolt for Hollywood this summer.
“Not only is there no guarantee he’s coming back, I’m not sure there’s an expectation he’s re-signing there,” Wojnarowski said. “I think they feel, I think within Cleveland and around the league, they feel that he’s very much in play to leave again and likely head out West to one of the two L.A. teams.”
Whether the Clippers can make a legitimate play for James or not, West will have to collaborate with owner Steve Ballmer and head coach/president of basketball operations Doc Rivers to devise a plan that allows the franchise to take a step forward following bouts of postseason stagnancy.
Despite winning 50 games in each of the past five seasons, the Clippers have yet to make an appearance in the Western Conference Finals and have bowed out of the playoffs in the first round two years running.