The Clippers have officially hired Sports Illustrated senior NBA writer Lee Jenkins, naming him the team’s executive director of research and identity, the club announced in a press release late on Monday night. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that Jenkins was leaving his job with SI for a front office role with the Clippers.
The newly-created position is the first of its kind for any NBA club, per the Clippers’ announcement. According to the team, “Jenkins will use his extensive reporting background and unique interviewing style to contribute to the franchise’s amateur and professional scouting infrastructure, as well as help to enhance the Clipper experience.”
As Wojnarowski details, Jenkins said he had never considered the possibility of working for an NBA franchise until Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and GM Michael Winger approached him a few months ago with the idea.
Jenkins acknowledges that there will be some “trial and error” when it comes to his new role, but says he’s excited to bring his media and reporting experience to the Clips’ front office.
“In our line of work, we ask questions from different angles, assemble information in different ways,” Jenkins told Wojnarowski. “We try to put it together like puzzles until we’ve formed a portrait of a person. I’m going to try to bring that same process to the Clippers in hopes it will complement what their incredible group of evaluators already accomplish. This team is interested not just in what players do, but who they are — how they’re wired, how they’re motivated — and that’s an area I love to explore.”
This isn’t the first time an NBA team has hired a media member to its front office, but typically those moves involve writers who focus on analytics and data, like when former ESPN stats guru John Hollinger joined the Grizzlies several years ago. It will be interesting to see how the Clippers use Jenkins, who is a storyteller rather than a statistician.