Clippers restructure front office, eliminate Doc Rivers' player personnel duties

August 4, 2017

The Los Angeles Clippers made a surprise announcement today aimed at both eliminating any perceived conflicts of interest and bringing more specialized roles for their coaching and basketball operations positions.

According to a team press release, the "change stems from discussions between team owner Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers."

Rivers, who previously coached the team and had the final say on all player personnel and roster moves, now will serve only as the team’s head coach.  Meanwhile, former Rivers' assistant coach Lawrence Frank will assume responsibility for basketball operations.

“Doc knows how to win championships," said Ballmer.  "That is what we prioritize, and that is what Doc will focus on. He is key to integrating our new players with our returning players and taking us to new heights on the court.  Lawrence is someone I learn from every single time I hear him talk. He gets recruiting, talent development and identification, salary cap strategy – he gets it all. I know the team will be well positioned with him leading the front office. It is great to have two independent voices -- and two of the League’s absolute professionals -- working in partnership for our team."

The move takes Rivers essentially out of his dual coach and general manager role, and puts him back on the sidelines exclusively.

“I am committed to the Clippers success and am excited to focus on the coaching side as two thirds of our roster will be new this year," said Rivers. "This is a change I discussed with Steve since my bet last year on Lawrence Frank has worked out so well.”

Part of the reason for the move certainly involves taking some responsibility off Rivers' overwhelmed plate, as handling two such demanding jobs simultaneously is a highly difficult juggling act.

The fact that Rivers has dealt away draft picks and has not been able to put together a roster that could get the Clippers into the Finals has not helped his cause as a general manager.

More importantly, however, the change removes any perceived conflicts of interest, as it has been reported by various other outlets that Rivers has been reluctant to pull the trigger on certain trades because those proposed transactions would have involved him dealing away his son, current Clippers guard Austin Rivers.

Altering that perception will be important for next year's offseason.  The Clippers are retooling on the fly after the Chris Paul deal, and will need to project stability and transparency to next year's class of potential free agent stars.

Nevertheless, it appears Rivers will retain some input on personnel moves.

According to the Clippers release, "Frank and Rivers will be peers in the Clippers' structure, each reporting directly to owner Steve Ballmer," but will still "work closely together."

Time will tell whether this announcement has any teeth to it and if Frank is truly empowered.

In other NBA news . . .

Spurs sign Patty Mills

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have re-signed guard Patty Mills, whose role with the team continues to grow as Tony Parker gets older.

During the 2016-17 season Mills appeared in 80 games, averaging  9.5 points, a career-best 3.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds in a career-high 21.9 minutes while shooting .440 (273-621) from the field, .414 (147-355) from beyond the arc and .825 (66-80) from the foul line. He ranked 11th in the NBA in three-point field goal percent while tying Kawhi Leonard in team-high honors with 147 made three-pointers.

For his career, Mills is averaging 7.9 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 17.0 minutes in 709 games while shooting .436 (1,291-2,958) from the field, .395 (592-1,498) from three-point range and .833 (290-348) from the foul line.

Since entering the NBA in 2009, Mills' 550 made three-pointers coming off the bench is the most of any player in the league shooting .390-or-better from long range. Among Spurs all-time leaders, Mills ranks fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.399, 543-1,361) and sixth in three-pointers made (543).

Warriors sign JaVale McGee

The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have re-signed free agent center JaVale McGee to a contract, the team announced, bringing back another piece of their rotation.

McGee, 29, averaged 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 9.6 minutes over 77 games (10 starts) in his first season with the Warriors in 2016-17, while hitting a career-best 65.2 percent from the field. In 10 starts, McGee tallied averages of 9.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game.

The nine-year NBA veteran ranked second among all centers in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with a 25.3 mark, trailing only Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns. In 16 postseason games (one start), McGee led all players in field goal percentage (.732) and averaged 5.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 9.3 minutes, helping Golden State to its fifth NBA championship in franchise history.

Orlando signs Speights and Afflalo

The Orlando Magic have signed free agent forward/center Marreese Speights and free agent guard Arron Afflalo, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman announced.

“Marreese (Speights) has developed into a effective shooting big man during his pro career,” said Weltman. “He is a veteran player that brings playoff and championship experience to our team. We are very happy to have Marreese and his family in Orlando.”

Speights (6’10”, 255, 4/4/87) played in all 82 regular season games (two starts) last season with the L.A. Clippers, averaging 8.7 ppg. and 4.5 rpg. in 15.7 minpg., while shooting .372 (103-277) from three-point range and .876 (120-137) from the free throw line. He scored in double figures 25 times last season, including a season-high 23 points on Jan. 16 vs. Oklahoma City and recorded four double-doubles.

Speights led (or tied) the Clippers in scoring three times and in rebounding four times. He also appeared in seven postseason outings (two starts), averaging 6.6 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. in 14.0 minpg.  Speights won an NBA World Championship with Golden State in 2014-15.

Afflalo (6’5”, 215, 10/15/85) played in 61 regular season games (45 starts) last season with Sacramento, averaging 8.4 ppg., 2.0 rpg. and 1.3 apg. in 25.9 minpg., while shooting .411 (62-151) from three-point range and .892 (83-93) from the free throw line. He scored in double figures 22 times last season, including a season-high 19 points on Jan. 3 @ Denver.

“Arron (Afflalo) adds experience and depth to our backcourt,” said Weltman. “He is an excellent three-point shooter and a veteran that will help our young roster both on the court and in the locker room. We are excited to have Arron back in a Magic uniform.”

Originally selected in the first round (27th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft by Detroit, Afflalo has appeared in 709 career NBA regular season games (534 starts) during his 10-year career with Detroit, Denver, Orlando, Portland, New York and Sacramento, averaging 11.3 ppg., 3.0 rpg. and 1.9 apg. in 28.4 minpg., while shooting .386 (825-2,135) from three-point range and .825 (1,358-1,647) from the free throw line.

This will be Afflalo’s second stint with the Magic. He played and started in 137 games during two seasons (2012-14) with Orlando, averaging 17.4 ppg., 3.7 rpg. and 3.3 apg., while shooting .370 (200-540) from three-point range and .832 (465-559) from the free throw line. Afflalo led the team in scoring in both 2012-13 (16.5 ppg.) and 2013-14 (career-high 18.2 ppg.).

Afflalo played three seasons collegiately at UCLA (2004-07), averaging 14.8 ppg., 3.5 rpg. and 1.9 apg. in 32.7 minpg. during 104 career games, while shooting .373 (209-560) from three-point range. He helped lead the Bruins to back-to-back NCAA Final Fours in 2006 and 2007, including the 2006 National Championship Game. Afflalo finished his career ranked second in UCLA history in three-point field goals made (209) and attempted (560) and 17th in scoring (1,540 points). He earned consensus First Team All-America honors, was a member of the Wooden All-America Team and was named the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year following his junior campaign (2006-07).

Wizards sign John Wall to extension

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced that the team has signed All-NBA guard John Wall to a multi-year contract extension.  Other outlets have reported that it is a "supermax" extension.

“Returning to the only team I’ve known in my professional career was an easy decision for me,” said Wall. “I want to thank my family, Mr. Leonsis, Ernie Grunfeld, all of my coaches and my teammates for their amazing support over the last seven years. I understand my role as the leader of this franchise and I will continue to work hard to improve my game and make our team better. Washington, D.C., is my second home and I take seriously my efforts in the community and look forward to strengthening that bond. Our fans are amazing and I’m excited to bring them and this city continued success and a team they can be proud of.”

With Wall at the helm, the Wizards won 49 games during the 2016-17 campaign (the most since the 1978-79 season), claimed the Southeast Division title (the first division title since the 1978-79 season) and returned to the playoffs, joining Cleveland as the only other team in the East to advance to the semifinals in three of the last four seasons.

Along the way, Wall averaged career highs in scoring (23.1), field goal percentage (.451), assists (10.7) and steals (2.0), became the first player in league history to average at least 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 0.5 blocks per game, and joined James Harden and Russell Westbrook as the only players to average a point/assist double-double during the regular season. He had the third-most double-doubles (50) among NBA guards, had the third-most games (49) with 10 or more assists and led the Eastern Conference in assists (831) for a fourth straight season.

Those accomplishments earned Wall All-NBA Third Team honors and his fourth straight All-Star selection. He was also tabbed the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and was a two-time Player of the Week honoree.

“John’s passion for winning, dedication to his teammates and commitment to the community have been on display since we drafted him seven years ago,” said Grunfeld.  “He has constantly worked to improve and expand his game and has developed into an All-NBA player who has elevated our franchise and electrified our fans.  We are thrilled that he will continue to lead us through the prime years of his career and look forward to watching as he solidifies his place among the greatest players in our team’s history.”

The Wizards selected Wall with the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky. He has averaged 18.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting .433 from the field and .321 from three-point range in 500 games (488 starts) in his seven seasons with the Wizards.  He is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (4,610) and steals (870).

“John is an exceptional talent and a cornerstone for our team – and our city,” said Ted Leonsis, Founder, Chairman and Majority Owner of Monumental Sports and Entertainment.  “This signing means stability for the Wizards for years to come and solidifies our commitment to drafting and then developing talent here at home.  It’s John’s unique blend of skill and leadership that makes us a championship-caliber team.”

In 31 playoff appearances, Wall holds averages of 21.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks in 38.7 minutes per game. During Washington’s 2017 postseason run, Wall averaged 27.2 points, 10.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals.

Wall joins Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Chris Paul as the only players in NBA history to average at least 17 points, eight assists and four rebounds through the first 345 games of their career. He became the sixth fastest player in NBA history (124 games) to reach the 2,000 points/1,000 assists plateau and was the fastest player (134 games) to reach 2,200 points, 1,000 assists, 600 rebounds, 200 steals and 90 blocks since steals and blocks became an official stat in the early 1970s.

Wall became the first player in NBA history to record totals of at least 1,800 points, 800 assists, 150 steals and 50 blocks in a season during the 2016-17 campaign, and during the same season, was just the third player to average at least 20.0 points, 10.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals since 2000-01. He is one of four players with 9,000 points and 4,500 assists through the age of 26 and is the third-youngest player ever to record a triple-double in NBA history at the age of 20 years and 65 days old (11/10/10).

By Staff of and news services

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