Tag: Kim Hughes

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Players had to cover coach’s cancer surgery because Clippers wouldn’t


The Clippers — behind the force of nature that is Blake Griffin — are on the precipice of being good. Maybe very good. Only the Thunder are a young team as well positioned to grow into a contender as the Clippers. Los Angeles has a franchise player, a good number two in Eric Gordon, quality young role players, future picks, a very reasonable salary number going forward. Just keep making smart decisions and they can be right there.

And yet, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because they are the Clippers and their owner Donald Sterling will find a way to screw it up. The stories about him are more horrifying with each new revelation.

This latest one may top the list — several years ago Clippers assistant coach Kim Hughes had prostate cancer, but the team wouldn’t pay for surgery.

We’ll let Gery Woelfel at the Journal-Times tell the story.

“I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn’t be covered,” Hughes said. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And they said if they did it for one person, they’d have to do for everybody else.”

When (then Clippers coach Mike) Dunleavy learned the Clippers wouldn’t cover the cost of Hughes’ surgery, he mentioned it to his players.

Several of them, including now Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric, were taken aback by the news and decided to offer their assistance.

“Kim was one of our coaches and he’s a really good friend of mine, too,” Maggette said. “He was in a situation where the Clippers’ medical coverage wouldn’t cover his surgery. I thought it was a great opportunity to help someone in need, to do something that Christ would do. It shows your humanity, that you care for other people and not just yourself. Kim was in a life-and-death situation.”

That says a lot about the players on that team and their unselfishness. Their humanity.

It says plenty about the Clippers and their owner, too.

Kim Hughes is still the Clippers coach. Sort of. It's complicated.

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Khughes_BDavis.jpgBack on April 15, the Clippers fired interim coach Kim Hughes. It was not a surprise, the team did not play well under Hughes (8-25), although most of that was well beyond his control. There wasn’t much uninjured talent left on the roster, and what there was had started to mail in the season. Hughes tried, but he could not change that.

So he turned in his keys and computer and left the Clippers compound for good.

Or so he thought
. Ramona Shelburn at ESPNLosAngles has some details.

The following Tuesday — four days after he was “relieved of his duties as interim head coach,” he met with Clippers owner Donald Sterling who informed him that he still had a job with the Clippers until his contract is up on June 30.

Hughes has been reporting for work to the Clippers training facility in Playa Vista every day since. Like the Clippers other assistant coaches, he is reviewing game tape from this season, working out players and helping to evaluate potential free agents.

“Well, basically Mr. Sterling called me on Tuesday and told me there was a misunderstanding,” Hughes explained. “I came back in on Wednesday and have been here ever since…. We had a long talk, a very good talk, and he said he didn’t want me leaving the Clippers family and I told him I never wanted to leave.”

There are a couple things at work here. They are going to seem cynical — which sucks because Hughes the coach grew on me after attending a few games and hearing his post-game press conferences, and I was not alone — but it’s hard for me not to be in this case.

One, Donald Sterling hates — HATES! — to pay people for not working. Clippers coaches from Bill Fitch through recently-fired Mike Dunleavy have had to sue to get the remaining money on their guaranteed contracts. Sterling’s view is a black-and-white “you don’t work, you don’t get paid.”

Secondly, rumors around the team say the Clippers are hoping to either find a coach that will lure free agents or allow a top free agent to pick a coach if he comes to Los Angeles. This is a deliberate search. That’s why you hear the Clippers have interest in Larry Brown. But, free agency doesn’t start until July 1, and in the interim there is a draft and workouts and a host of prep work. The Clippers need someone to do that, and Hughes would be a good choice.

But the second a better candidate comes along, he will be out of this role. He may stay on with the franchise in some role, but he will not coach again. Unless the Clippers can’t find someone they like better. Then who knows? It’s hard to predict what the Clippers will do next.

Kim Hughes, the Clippers fired the last honest coach

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Even before it was clear that Wednesday night was his last night as a head coach, Clippers interim Kim Hughes was honest.

I was there his first game, when he jokingly called Chris Kaman emotionally retarded (well, half joking anyway) and after the game admitted that he may not have the ball handlers to run the open offensive style he wanted. TrueHoop’s Kevin Arnovitz penned a brilliant ode to Hughes the other day.

But now Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld has posted large parts of Kim Hughes last press conference as head coach — before the Lakers game last Wednesday — when the brutally honest coach had nothing left to lose or hide.

“With free agency, when you have nine guys who are looking for number one (that’s human nature), their objective is to get a contract for next year first,” said Hughes.  “It’s unfortunate that it’s that way but that’s reality.”

“Do free agents listen to you?  I don’t know about that one,” said Kim.  “I don’t think it’s the interim [tag] as much as the free agency that stops the process of entering their ear drums and going to the synapses in their brain.  I think sometimes it short circuits where they’re free agents because their agents are telling them ‘You’ve got to score points’ – and coach says ‘You’ve got to guard and defend.'”

“They’re thinking ‘Who should I listen to?'”

“I understand that it’s not a good system but it’s our system here in the NBA.”

“It’s our fault as coaches and GM’s.  It’s [Commissioner David] Stern’s fault,” continued Hughes.  “I’ve told them if they want to have a good product, you take the base related income and you kick in say $1.5 million per player for winning the title.  You’ll see guys play balls out.  That’s the way you’ll get guys to play hard because right now there’s no inducement to win the NBA Finals other than for the ring because they’re taking a pay-cut.  But If you have some of these eight, ninth, tenth players playing for $1.5 million?  Their girlfriends and wives will be beating the crap out of them to say you play I don’t care if you’re hurt, you play.  You’re playing for something.  Right now players aren’t playing for enough.  They’re playing for salaries and that doesn’t make it.  Back when it was the way it should be you’re playing to win because when you’ve got $200-300k playoff money – that was big.  Now it’s nothing.  It’s not comparable enough to their salaries.  It doesn’t work.”

The night before Baron Davis had said the next year he wanted to be the leader of the Clippers. Hughes called him out on that.

“To be a leader you’ve got to be the first one to practice and the last one to leave.  You can’t talk it.  You’ve got to walk it.  If you truly are the leader, and right now we really don’t have one, you’ve got to be there every day in practice – compete every day through minor injuries, minor illnesses,” said Hughes.  “It’s not a job description that you pick and choose when you want to be a leader.  You’re either a leader every time or you’re not.  [Baron] may not be the leader next year, I don’t know.”

I’m going to miss Kim Hughes

Kim Hughes fired as Clippers interim coach. Is a good decision next?

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This makes two coaches let go in one day, although neither one was a surprise.

The Clippers have let go of interim coach Kim Hughes. He had a raw deal, taking over for Mike Dunleavy, trying to change to a more open system of play when he did not have the ball handlers through the lineup to do it. Plus, right about when he took over and the Clippers had fallen out of playoff contention, the numerous free agent players on the Clippers started playing for themselves and not the team.

Here’s some comments from the official release

“We appreciate Kim’s contributions during his time here especially over the last two and a half months,” stated Clippers’ President Andy Roeser. “But we also know that our responsibility is to do what is in the organization’s immediate best interests for its ability to move forward. This season was an overall disappointment and certainly fell short of both our expectations and what should rightly have been anticipated by our fans. We will move deliberately and productively to regain the successful competitive position we had all hoped for when this past season began.”

“We think our situation is extremely attractive, both from the standpoint of the talented and popular core of players who are already under contract, as well as the salary cap flexibility we have created for this summer,” Roeser continued. “Los Angeles is a great city, we have total support from our ownership, our facilities are state of the art and we are blessed with a tremendous fan base.”

There have been rumors that part of the Clippers offer to any super-big-name free agents would be the chance to name their own coach.

The firing of Hughes was necessary. The Clippers need an identity as a team, they need both a coach and a quality free agent or two to deliver on that. Even Hughes understood that in a post-game comment a couple days ago:

“We need to declare who our leader is, determine that and we need to get one free agent at least I like our guys. I think this a great potential, great future for next year.”

Is Dallas assistant Dwane Casey that coach? He has emerged as top candidate for the job, according to several reports. He came in a close second in recent hirings in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. However, he may not be available for some time as Dallas makes a playoff run.