Jerry West, one of the NBA’s most distinguished executives who once presided over making the Lakers a powerhouse, is finalizing a deal to join the Clippers as a consultant, said several league officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
West, who spent the last six seasons as an executive board member with the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, would serve in the same advisory role with the Clippers, according to the officials.
One official said West, 79, took the Clippers’ job because he wants another challenge after helping the Warriors acquire Kevin Durant last summer and then watching Golden State defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals on Monday night for their second title in three years.
Though his deal with Golden State runs through July, the Warriors gave the Clippers permission to speak with West, one executive said.
An official announcement is not expected until next week, another executive said, possibly as early as Monday.
“Obviously, it’s attractive to him because he lives in the Los Angeles area and started his career as a player in L.A. with the Lakers,” one executive said. “This is the place for him to go because he’s looking for things to do still. He’s looking for another challenge.”
Even after West met with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers, the team’s coach and president of basketball operations, on May 30 at the team’s practice facility in Playa Vista, the executives said West “twice changed his mind” before deciding Wednesday that he wanted to join the Clippers.
Dennis Wong, a friend of Ballmer from their days in college at Harvard who owns somewhere between one to four percent of the Clippers, was the first to reach out to West a few weeks ago about becoming an advisor for the team.
West is not looking to have “more power” than Rivers, but wants to work beside him, executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, general manager Dave Wohl and assistant general manager Gerald Madkins, the executives said.
“Jerry is still driven,” one executive said. “He’s still sharp and he likes competition.”
There is a strong chance that West’s son, Ryan West, who is the Lakers’ director of player personnel, will join the Clippers in some capacity, one executive said.
The executives said the Clippers are hopeful that having Jerry West around will help them keep Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, both of whom are expected to opt out of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Paul, who has until June 29 to let the Clippers know his decision, can earn $205 million over five years with L.A., or $152 million over four years with another team.
The Clippers have recently become “nervous” about the reports that San Antonio will make a big push to get Paul and that the point guard has interest in talking to and possibly joining the Spurs, said one executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Griffin can sign a five-year deal worth $175 million with L.A., or sign a four-year deal worth $130 million with another team. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams that will make a bid for Griffin, according to several executives.
“West knows he has a big task ahead of him with the Clippers,” one executive said. “But he feels as if Steve Ballmer is going to be one of the great owners in this league.”