FRIDAY, 12:48pm: Rivers denies the content of the TMZ story, tweets Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.
TUESDAY, 8:33am: Several players and key figures within the Clippers organization feel that president of business operations Gillian Zucker is overstepping her bounds and usurping the authority of coach/president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, reports TMZ Sports. One player decided against re-signing with the Clippers because of the confusion over whether Rivers or Zucker has more power, TMZ adds. Zucker became involved in player development and decisions involving playing time, but it’s “painfully obvious” that she doesn’t understand NBA culture, having previously worked in auto racing, players said to TMZ.
Zucker denied knowledge of any such issues to TMZ, saying that the lines are “very clear” between the team’s business department, which owner Steve Ballmer hired her to oversee, and the basketball side. People within the organization who say the issues exist profess that they like Ballmer but are anxious for him to put a check on Zucker’s authority before the situation gets worse, according to TMZ.
Zucker was the impetus for the departure of more than 10 employees within the Clippers who were either fired or quit, HBO’s Bill Simmons tweets. Zucker’s administration is also having trouble with the league, team sponsors, and the team’s TV deal, Simmons adds (Twitter link). The Clippers appear to be $40MM apart on annual local TV rights fee proposals with Fox Sports, as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported this week, and are considering a streaming service, as Claire Atkinson of the New York Post reported last month.
Glen Davis, Dahntay Jones, Hedo Turkoglu and Ekpe Udoh are the Clippers who became free agents July 1st and who haven’t re-signed with the team. The Clippers also waived Lester Hudson and Jordan Hamilton, neither of whom has re-signed. Ostensibly, the player who chose not to return to the Clippers because of Zucker is one of those six.