I’ve had a chance to speak with a lot more people this afternoon about Elgin Baylor no longer being with the Clippers and updated the brief story I filed earlier.
One thing I wanted to clarify/note is that Baylor was the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations. He was frequently quoted as its general manager, but officially, that role was vacant and never part of his title.
Dunleavy then, becomes the team’s general manager. But does not replace Baylor as general manager, since Baylor never was officially the “general manager.”
It’s just a matter of semantics, but I wanted to clarify.
Also, one quick note. Dunleavy’s contract will not change now that he’s the GM. He has three years (including this one) at $5.5 million per season remaining on his contract.
By Ramona Shelburne
Elgin Baylor has been the steward of the Los Angeles Clippers for the past 22 years. Now it’s Mike Dunleavy’s turn.
After years of seeing his power slowly erode within the organization, Baylor has left the team and his position as Vice President of Basketball Operations under what appear to be contentious circumstances.
Head coach Mike Dunleavy will now also serve as the team’s general manager. Neil Olshey, the team’s director of player personnel, is the new assistant general manager.
“There’s a dispute and I’ve been advised by my attorney’s not to discuss it,” Baylor said Tuesday afternoon in a telephone interview.
Messages left Tuesday afternoon for Baylor’s two attorneys were not returned.
The situation reached a breaking point towards the end of summer, but Dunleavy said that the club didn’t officially approach him about becoming general manager until the last couple of days.
“Basically the team just came to me recently and said that Elgin was (leaving) and they wanted me to take on responsibilities as general manager,” Dunleavy said.
The 74-year old Baylor was the NBA’s Executive of the Year as recently as 2006, but it’s widely known that his power has eroded in recent years.
A league source said that the team had hoped Baylor would stay on as a consultant, and that that door is still open.
Dunleavy added that his relationship with Baylor had been strong, and he’d “enjoyed working with Elgin. He’s a great guy and a great man.”
Baylor, who played 14 seasons with the Lakers, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976 and chosen as one of the NBA’s “50 Greatest Players of All Time” during the league’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1997. He has been with the Clippers since 1986.
The Clippers underwent one of the wildest makeovers in NBA history this offseason. Franchise cornerstones Elton Brand and Corey Maggette left contentiously via free agency, Baron Davis and Marcus Camby arrived, joining just five players who were on the roster the previous season.
During Brand’s introductory press conference in Philadelphia, his agent, David Falk, made an offhand comment about his negotiations with the Clippers that revealed just how much Baylor’s power had eroded.
Falk noted that “Coach Dunleavy, who acts as the quasi general manager in LA” had gone “to the mat on Elton’s behalf,” essentially placing Baylor on the outside of the negotiations.
Double duty is nothing new for Dunleavy, who previously served as head coach and general manager with Milwaukee from 1992-96.
“We’re going to continue to keep moving forward,” Dunleavy said. said. “I don’t know that it’s a big change at all. A lot of the time, we all huddle up and make our decisions. So we’re pretty much going on the way we’ve been doing it. ”
Part of the understanding, when Dunleavy signed a four-year, $22-million extension in December of 2006, is that he would have input in personnel moves. That role gradually evolved into something more.
The situation seemed workable until recently and there appears to be no indication of an event that caused a falling out. Dunleavy even said that Baylor’s departure caught him off-guard.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Dunleavy said. “He (Baylor) never said anything to me. …. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Elgin. I think he’s one of the Top 5 greatest players of all time. Whenever people talk about players who transcend eras, Elgin is that guy. He was way ahead of his time … and he was also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever want to meet.”
Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who played for the Clippers from 1999-2003, seconded that opinion.
“He’s a good man,” Odom said before the Lakers preseason opener against the Utah Jazz. “He didn’t deserve that.”