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The Clippers’ Meeting With Jerry West Raises the Question: Is L.A. … OK?

Growing rumors out of Los Angeles indicate that the Clippers are ready for a change

(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)

Loud, gossipy, semi-desperate, and poised for a breakup: The Clippers organization is giving off high-school-relationship-esque vibes. And no, that is never a good thing. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the latest rumor out of Los Angeles on Tuesday night, that the Clips are interested in hiring 79-year-old Jerry West away from the Warriors in an "advisory capacity." According to Stein, he’s already met with Doc Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer.

West, a two-time Executive of the Year, has been with Golden State since 2011 in an advisory role. Owner Joe Lacob told the Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami last week that he "would love him back, and we’ve made that known," after the Hall of Famer’s contract is up in July. The thought of leaving the Warriors, who have the league’s winningest record over a three-year stretch in history, seems nonsensical — especially if it’s for a team that can’t even make it out of, for lack of a better word, the West.

This rumor — piled onto the speculation that Blake Griffin will leave and Chris Paul wants the Gregg Popovich treatment — is the latest of many murmurs out of Los Angeles that all circle back to the prospect of seriously altering the team. As hard as West leaving the Bay is to fathom, the Clippers even setting up such meetings is the biggest indication yet that the organization now knows Doc needs help on the personnel side.

Speaking of Doc, the coach joined in the noise Tuesday, sharing his thoughts on Kevin Durant leaving during free agency some 11 months later.

"It is tough when you see a guy join a team," Rivers told Mike & Mike. "In Durant’s case, what he did this year. That was tough for anybody, anybody that’s competitive, to watch. He lost, and then he joined. Having said that, it was his choice, I have no problem with him, but it’s something, from a competitive standpoint, you would think you wouldn’t do."

The curiosity behind Doc saying that is twofold. First, he coached the 2007–08 Celtics, who kicked off the modern superteam movement. That championship team was built from Kevin Garnett leaving Minnesota (the Wolves have still not recovered) and Ray Allen departing the SuperSonics.

But the comments also wrap back to West, who was with Golden State last summer when the team recruited Durant, and who seems, quite frankly, bored with comments like Doc’s about competitiveness. After blowing out the Spurs in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, West told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, "I don’t like parity. I don’t like the word parity. Parity is average, and I like to see excellence."

It would take way more than West leaving Golden State for the Clippers to improve enough to contribute to that conference parity he so dislikes. But if excellence is what he wants to see, that’ll come Thursday, nearly 400 miles north of a Los Angeles team trying to find a new direction.