Longtime basketball executive Jerry West surprised many NBA observers earlier this offseason when he decided to leave the Warriors for the Clippers. Speaking to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, West acknowledged that he was sad to leave Golden State and had been very happy working for the Warriors, chalking up his decision to timing.
Although he’s a consultant for the Clippers now, West still views the Warriors as the overwhelming favorite to win another championship in 2018, telling Kawakami that “everyone’s playing for second place right now.”
In addition to sharing his lingering fondness for his old team, West also touched on several other noteworthy topics during his discussion with Kawakami. Here are a few highlights:
On whether he knew Chris Paul would leave when he left the Warriors for the Clippers:
“I felt he was. Yes. I didn’t think he was going to stay there. You just get a sense that some players are going to move, you do. You just get a sense… there was all the talk. I know that Steve [Ballmer] met with him. I think Lawrence [Frank] and Doc [Rivers] both met with him. I did not meet with him or talk with him. I just had the sense when I first started talking to them, I asked them, ‘You may not be able to keep either one of these players, him or Blake Griffin.’ I said, ‘How’s that going to work?’ I think they felt there was a chance for sure that he was going to leave.”
On the Clippers moving on without Paul:
“I know some of the people down there [in Houston] and obviously Mike D’Antoni, he’s a friend of mine, he has a place at the Green Brier, and he’s very high on the players we got. He mentioned to me, he said that he thinks they’ll get to play there more and particularly if Sam Dekker can be healthy, he’s a very good prospect. He’s had two seasons of injuries, but he seems very healthy.
“It also gives Doc a chance as a coach to be able to coach differently, more ball movement. Chris was a ball-dominant point guard. [Not having Paul] encourages more movement. When a coach has to do things a little bit differently, that might be challenging but also might be fun for him. Even though we’ll miss Chris, it’s part of the NBA.”
On Clippers owner Steve Ballmer:
“[In] a lot of ways he reminds me of the kind of owners that you want, somebody who’s really committed to trying to build a team. He’s smart, he lets people do their job, he doesn’t think he’s someone who wants to run the team. He’s given Lawrence and Doc a lot of leeway there and they’re going to hire two new people there in the front office. It’s just… I see some changes from the prior regime there that I think are going to be really positive.
On whether he thought he might return to the Lakers rather than joining the Clippers:
“Absolutely not. I had no contact with the Lakers. Honestly, I would’ve never gone back there even if they would’ve contacted me. Never had any conversations, never had a desire there. I knew that would’ve never happened.”
Be sure to check out Kawakami’s full interview with West for more interesting observations from The Logo.