Clippers' Lawrence Frank Talks Working With Steve Ballmer, Recent Front-Office Shakeup
Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank recently discussed the team's restructured front office, his use of analytics and his interactions with new team consultant Jerry West as part of a Q&A with Elliott Teaford of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Excerpts are below, some of which have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Do you view the Clippers as a new franchise since Steve Ballmer bought the team?
Frank: You can’t hide from what happened in the past, but you have the wealthiest owner in all of sports who is doing whatever it takes to build a championship-driven, world-class, player-centered environment. The guy has a proven track record of leading one of the most powerful companies in the world (Microsoft). He’s great. He’s always available. You always let Steve know in advance.
Q: What did it mean to strip Doc Rivers of his front-office duties during the offseason?
Frank: Doc and I are partners. Doc still has a huge voice in what we’re doing. What it allowed us to do is build our infrastructure, where we can attract other “A Level” people who can address some gaps we had in our organization. Between hiring Michael Winger [as GM], Trent Redden and Mark Hughes [as Assistant GMs] and Matt Elijah [as Manager of Strategic Planning] and guys we already had in the organization like [Special Advisor] Dave Wohl and some of the other people we had, we were looking at putting together a really special team.
Q: What kind of direction are you getting from Jerry West?
Frank: I’m a believer that nothing ever happens just once. With Jerry, you actually have a living history of different situations that have happened to your team. He’s lived it. Instead of studying the history, he is that history. You can pick his brain. Plus, he still loves to watch games. He watches every freakin’ NBA game. He gives you different perspectives. He’s always going to shoot it straight. He’s just an unbelievable resource as a consultant.
Q: Have you embraced the new analytics, the fancy stats as a useful tool?
Frank: It’s a weapon. You’ve got to take advantage. Doc takes advantage from a coaching standpoint. Analytics aren’t new. ... We can look at 10 possessions and we can tell what happened. Analytics can look at 10,000 possessions. It may raise an antenna and you can go back and watch the film. Different combinations. You never know. A certain player, if he gets fouled twice in a quarter, how it impacts his aggressiveness to attack the rim. You get so many different queries. It’s a great tool.