Clippers host inaugural PLAYBOOK event for season ticket holders following trade deadline
The LA Clippers held their first-ever PLAYBOOK event at the Shrine Auditorium on Thursday night, featuring a live conversation with President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank and Clippers Special Advisor Jerry West on the night of the NBA’s trade deadline and was exclusively for MVPs, what the Clippers call their season ticket holders, and team partners. Frank and West spoke directly to fans about the Clippers’ basketball strategy and future plans.
After an introduction from Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker, Frank and West took the stage joined by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. Nichols, the host of “The Jump” on ESPN, hosted the event and asked questions of the Clippers front office duo that came from Clippers MVPs while close to 1,000 fans in attendance listened on.
Key topics in Thursday’s discussion ranged from the Clippers’ recent trade of Blake Griffin to the franchise’s future path to an NBA title, and Frank and West emphasized the team’s three strategic goals.
“These are very hard decisions, but ultimately we’re servants to you [the season ticket holders], we’re servants to Steve [Ballmer], the team and the organization, to make the best decisions, not just for the short-term, but for the long-term,” explained Frank. “And as difficult as it was, we really felt that it was the best decision, because of those three strategic goals of competitiveness, adding to the talent pipeline and flexibility. It was just such a unique opportunity."
The most poignant moment of the evening came from West in reference to the Griffin trade.
“Lawrence Frank and Michael Winger, who is our general manager, they did a heck of a job making that trade,” West said. “I like Blake Griffin. The most difficult thing that you have to do in this job is separate yourself from the personal ties you feel with these people. It feels awful when someone you like has to be traded, but again, I go back to what I said earlier: what is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
The Clippers' other major move came in the form of retaining guard Lou Williams, who the Clippers on Wednesday signed to a multi-year extension.
“Sometimes with players, what you forget is that even as they get older, they get better,” Frank said. “Lou is in his 13th year and is having a career year, but if you look at what he did last year, it was a career year. We legitimately felt Lou should’ve been an All-Star this year, but what we didn’t realize about Lou was how unbelievable he was as a locker room leader.”
Despite much fan and media speculation, the Clippers did not move 10-year veteran DeAndre Jordan before Thursday’s trade deadline. Frank said that for months, he and the Clippers front office have kept an open dialogue with Jordan on a weekly basis regarding his future with the team.
“The thing with [DeAndre Jordan] that has been really unique is that, I would say from November on, we have had daily, weekly dialogue,” Frank said. “We have had very transparent conversations about him and the direction of the franchise. So I think that it was very easy in terms of communicating with him back and forth…but we felt the best thing to do was for DJ to be with us here as a Clipper and we look forward to him having a really strong remaining part of the year.”
Fans in attendance clapped when Frank offered his support for Jordan, a longtime fan favorite.
West and Frank’s key message from the evening is that as executives, they have been in this position before, which is looking to remain competitive while pivoting a team’s direction midseason.
West reiterated that once this Clippers team returns to full health – as this season continues and into next season – it will be a force to be reckoned with.
“I think we’ve done something here…that’s going to pay dividends for you season ticket holders. It’s really nice to see so many people come out here, and we do this for you. It really feels good when fans believe in the people in the front office.
“We want a team that you can be proud of. We’ve had the best team in town for six years, and we still have the best team in town.”