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The Beat: Dan Woike On The Clippers

Nobody knows NBA teams better than beat writers, save for those who draw paychecks with an NBA owner’s signature on them. The reporters who are with the teams they cover every day gain an intimate knowledge of the players, coaches and executives they write about and develop sources who help them break news and stay on top of rumors.

We at Hoops Rumors will be chatting with beat writers from around the league and sharing their responses to give you a better perspective on how and why teams make some of their most significant moves. We’ll tip off the series with Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, who covers the Clippers. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanWoikeSports and click here to check out his stories for the Register.

Hoops Rumors: How is Doc Rivers handling the dual role of coach and executive? How heavily does he lean on the other basketball operations execs, and has the dynamic evolved during his time there?

  • Dan Woike: I think he still views himself as a coach first. He’s not taking time from his daily coaching duties to review scouting reports from D-League games or draft candidates. His priority is the team he has today. I think he leans on guys like [GM] Dave Wohl to handle that stuff for him. Like any job, I think he’ll get better handling the two roles. What’s interesting to me is how, at times, they should pull him in different directions. As a coach, his priority has to be to win now. But as an executive, you have to be trying to figure out how to win in five years. The great ones figure out ways to accomplish both, and I think that’s what he’s trying to do.

Hoops Rumors: What’s been the most substantial change around the organization since Steve Ballmer replaced Donald Sterling as owner?

  • Dan Woike: There was always a sense that another shoe would drop with Donald Sterling, that he’d do or say something that would embarrass the organization. Now that he’s gone, there isn’t that worry. They show the owner on the scoreboard now and people cheer. They didn’t put Sterling up there because they knew how people would react. They’ve invested in things like 3-D court displays, analytics stuff for fans and better in-game promotions to better the fan experience. There’s still room to grow on that end, but people seem happier.

Hoops Rumors: It’s been really quiet on the Sterling front since Ballmer officially took over. Do you get the sense that everyone there, players included, has put Sterling behind them?

  • Dan Woike: Players were ready to move on as soon as he was banned for life. The sale cemented that. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about him, I can promise.

Hoops Rumors: Was there any hesitancy at all among the players when it became clear the team was in talks to trade for Austin Rivers? How has Doc’s son been received by his teammates?

  • Dan Woike: I talked to some former Clipper players at that time, and they expressed some concerns about how a team would handle something like this. Would players still be free to vent their frustrations? Would they need to watch what they said? I think everyone involved worked hard to make it clear that it wouldn’t be an issue, and the fact Austin has come in with a good attitude and a willingness to play defense, I think it’s helped. The fact that they’re winning certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

Hoops Rumors: DeAndre Jordan spoke about this summer’s free agency recently and has done so from time to time. Is there any sense of anxiety around the rest of the team when he brings that up?

  • Dan Woike: I think it’s on DJ to decide what he wants to do. The Clippers have been open and clear about their intents. Doc Rivers has said they’ll do anything they can to keep him. The question becomes, does DJ want to stay? I think they know there’s not much more they can do to convince him than what they’ve already done.

Hoops Rumors: Do you think that Doc would still make the Eric Bledsoe/J.J. Redick deal if he had a chance to do that 2013 offseason over again?

  • Dan Woike: This is a great question. At the time, people really liked that trade because it seemed like they were adding two starters. Injuries kept Jared Dudley from becoming the player the Clippers hoped, but Redick has been such a key for their offense. Could the Clippers have just signed Redick outright without trading Bledsoe? I don’t know. Could they have maybe gotten a little more? They certainly could’ve used a young asset back in that deal to help them improve down the road. I think if they were faced with the exact same offer today, knowing how good Redick has been, they’d make the deal. Maybe. Haha.

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