Clippers relieve Doc Rivers of his GM duties and promote Lawrence Frank

Doc Rivers was named the president of basketball operations and coach of the Clippers four years ago when he was hired by former owner Donald Sterling.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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 VP 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.


Clippers coach Doc Rivers argues a foul call during Game 2 of a playoff series against the Utah Jazz on April 18.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“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 sixth-man 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 and that the Clippers will take their time.

Gallinari update

Clippers small forward 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.

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner


11:40 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with the Clippers news release.

5:10 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout.

This article was originally published at 11:10 a.m.