There is a significant power shift coming to the Los Angeles Clippers, and they have stolen a Laker icon to make it happen.
Jerry West is leaving his role of six years as a consultant with the Golden State Warriors — part of the brain trust that built them into a juggernaut — to take on a similar role, although possibly with more power, with the Clippers.
Jerry West is leaving the Golden State Warriors to take a similar job with the Los Angeles Clippers, SI.com has learned. West, who turned 79 as the NBA Finals began, made his decision over the last couple of weeks.
Known as the architect of two Laker championship teams as a general manager (Showtime in the decade of the 80s and the Kobe-Shaq threepeaters at the beginning of the century), West was not in a decision-making capacity with the Warriors. But he was a respected voice on personnel matters as Golden State turned from a laughingstock to a model franchise.
Other reports have also confirmed this move, including from the principles involved.
There was talk of West trying to return to the Lakers, but with the new Magic Johnson/Rob Pelinka power structure, there was no fit. So he talked to the other L.A. team.
For the Warriors, this is a loss. When he arrived at the behest of a then new ownership group, he brought an air of credibility to what had been a long-woeful organization. He was a respected voice in a Golden State front office that encourages debate and different viewpoints. West was known to have been a big proponent of keeping Klay Thompson and not trading him for Kevin Love.
For the Clippers, this is a massive win — not only do they steal a Laker legend, but he again brings an instant air of respectability and credibility.
While West is a consultant and Doc Rivers is still the president and the guy with the hammer on trades, and the two will say they can work together, make no mistake this is the start of a power shift in the organization. Doc Rivers has made his moves, and the Clippers have been a top five-to-seven NBA team for a few years, but due to injuries and bad matchups they have never gotten out of the second round of the playoffs. Now with the Warriors poised to be dominant for years, with the Spurs still being the Spurs, and having been passed in the standings by teams such as Houston and Utah, the Clippers have some hard decisions to make this summer.
They want Chris Paul back, but does he want to return? And if he does, but decides to play the free agent game and talk to the Spurs and Heat and other suitors, can the Clippers wait for him? Do they re-sign Blake Griffin at the max? Can they get J.J. Redick back? The sense around the league is that Steve Ballmer may be rich, but he doesn’t want a massive luxury tax bill next year to run this same roster back. Do they let Griffin walk and try to swing a trade for Carmelo Anthony, and would that really make them better?
West is going to have a big say in all of this, and in other moves going forward. That may be bad news for Doc Rivers the GM, but it’s good news for the Clippers.