With the Clippers Donald Sterling, it's not just the coaches you know who get screwed


Thumbnail image for dsterling.jpgWe’ve written before about Mike Dunleavy having to go to court to get the last year of his $6.5 million guaranteed contract paid (and getting sued back by the team. It’s a Donald Sterling Clipper tradition dating back to Bill Fitch — once you’re let go, the checks stop. Contracts be damned.

That applies to the people whose names you don’t know that work for the Clippers as well.

Scott Wissel and Jerry Holloway were the Clippers advanced scouts, who were hired on a verbal, season-to-season contract by the Clippers that ran October to October. While they didn’t have as much work once the season ended, they got paid through the summer.

Well, until this summer, according to a good story by Sam Amick at FanHouse. In mid-May, the checks just stopped. Holloway filed suit and has been paid, while Wissel is looking at his options. He likely will head to court, too.

Dunleavy and his seven-figure salary can afford the lawyers needed to get paid. But advanced scouts are not getting rich at their jobs, with the average scout making $65,000 a year or so. With the Clippers, it may well have been less (they notoriously do not pay well compared to other NBA teams). It’s not a job where you have extra money in the savings account to hire lawyers.

This is the Clippers official response, as emailed to FanHouse:

“We do not comment on internal personnel matters, but it would be totally inaccurate to say that there are any claims or disputes concerning either of those former employees,” the statement read. “Both were at-will employees. Neither were or are owed any additional compensation. Any suggestion to the contrary is unfounded and irresponsible.”

Advanced scouts have a tough job that involves a lot of planes and hotel rooms — they travel almost constantly during the season. The scout a team, draw up the key plays on a FastDraw computer program, write a report then send it off to the team and move on. It’s not glamorous, it’s a job of airports and bad food. It’s hard work.

The kind of work that should be rewarded, not work where at the end of the day you have to go to court to get paid.

The disconnect in Sterling’s mind between incidents like this — which are stories circulated in the basketball community — and the inability to lure top talent to the franchise is amazing. Sterling may fire you at any time and you have to fight to get paid what you are owed. He may just forget your name when he talks about you in public, showing you no respect.

It’s sad to watch an organization where people try their best to do good work, only to be undercut by the man at the top. Consistently.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.