OUT OF FRONT OF­FICE, ON THE BENCH

Rivers loses his ti­tle of Clip­pers’ pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions, and Frank is pro­moted from ex­ec­u­tive VP.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Brod­er­ick Turner

Clip­pers owner Steve Ballmer, af­ter mul­ti­ple dis­cus­sions with coach Doc Rivers, has de­ter­mined that Rivers will re­lin­quish his role as the team’s pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions.

When the Clip­pers made the an­nounce­ment Fri­day, Ballmer noted in a news re­lease that Lawrence Frank, the team’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions, will “as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity for basketball op­er­a­tions.”

Ballmer in­di­cated that Rivers and Frank will be “peers in the Clip­pers’ struc­ture.” They both will re­port di­rectly to Ballmer and still will work closely to­gether in the team’s quest of win­ning the fran­chise’s first NBA cham­pi­onship.

“Doc knows how to win cham­pi­onships,” Ballmer said in the re­lease. “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.”

Rivers as­sumed the du­ties of pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions and coach of the Clip­pers four years ago when he was hired by for­mer owner Don­ald Ster­ling.

Crit­ics of­ten ques­tioned Rivers’ dual role and fans grew up­set with some of the acquisitions he made as an ex­ec­u­tive.

“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,” Rivers said in the re­lease. “This is a change I dis­cussed with Steve since my bet last year on Lawrence Frank has worked out so well.”

Frank was hired to be a Clip­pers as­sis­tant coach for

Rivers three years ago. Frank was pro­moted to vice pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions by Rivers and Ballmer last sum­mer.

“Lawrence is some­one I learn from ev­ery sin­gle time I hear him talk,” Ballmer said in the state­ment. “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. With th­ese two guys at the helm, we will have great suc­cess.”

Frank said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that de­spite his role, “the work is the same.”

He also said the pres­sure is on the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion and not only on him.

“We all feel re­spon­si­ble and ac­count­able to de­liver ev­ery sin­gle day,” Frank said. “It doesn’t change my mind-set. We’re go­ing to do ev­ery­thing we pos­si­bly can to move the team for­ward and to win a cham­pi­onship.”

Rivers, who has two years left on a five-year deal worth more than $50 mil­lion, will earn his $10-plus-mil­lion salary per sea­son, ac­cord­ing to an NBA ex­ec­u­tive who was not autho­rized to speak pub­licly on the mat­ter.

Jerry West, who was hired to be a con­sul­tant with the Clip­pers, was told of the de­ci­sion by Ballmer, ac­cord­ing to the ex­ec­u­tive.

“Doc has al­ways been a great part­ner,” said Frank, who was at the Adi­das Na­tions camp in Hous­ton. “This is some­thing that he thought was re­ally, re­ally good. This kind of was his vi­sion back when he put me in this role.”

The Clip­pers have nine new play­ers on their ros­ter. But it was the loss of key starters Chris Paul, who was traded to Hous­ton, J.J. Redick, who signed as a free agent with Philadel­phia and Luc Mbah a Moute, who signed as a free agent with Hous­ton, as well as six­th­man Ja­mal Craw­ford, who signed with Min­nesota, that led Ballmer to get more in­volved, ac­cord­ing to the ex­ec­u­tive.

The ex­ec­u­tive said Ballmer called sev­eral of the play­ers who left to ask them why and about their feel­ings af­ter play­ing for Rivers.

The Clip­pers in­ter­viewed both Mark Hughes and Sha­reef Ab­dur-Rahim last week for front-of­fice po­si­tions that be­came avail­able when as­sis­tant gen­eral man­agers Ger­ald Mad­kins and Gary Sacks left.

Frank said the in­ter­view process con­tin­ues with other can­di­dates.

Gal­li­nari up­date Danilo Gal­li­nari, who in­jured his right thumb Sun­day while play­ing for Italy in an ex­hi­bi­tion game, is ex­pected to be back in Los An­ge­les on Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to an NBA ex­ec­u­tive.

His orig­i­nal time frame for heal­ing hasn’t changed from three to four weeks af­ter Clip­pers doc­tors re­viewed Gal­li­nari’s MRI ex­am­i­na­tion this week. But one ex­ec­u­tive said Gal­li­nari prob­a­bly won’t be back on the court for four to six weeks.

David Zalubowski AP

LAWRENCE FRANK was pro­moted last sum­mer from as­sis­tant coach to vice pres­i­dent.

Rick Bowmer As­so­ci­ated Press

CRIT­ICS HAVE QUES­TIONED Doc Rivers’ dual role, but now he says he is ex­cited to con­cen­trate on the coach­ing side with the Clip­pers’ re­vamped ros­ter.

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