After winning their second NBA championship in the last three seasons, the Golden State Warriors are set to make a number of crucial decisions this offseason.
Not only do 10 players on their title-winning roster have the ability to become free agents, including Finals MVP Kevin Durant and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, but they will also have to re-group following the news that Hall of Famer Jerry West will be leaving his position as a key advisor to take a similar role in the LA Clippers’ front office.
According to ESPN, West called Monday night’s clinching Game 5 win “one of the saddest nights of my life” because of the incredible respect that he has for everyone within the Warriors organization.
"I knew I was going to be leaving. I didn't know what I was going to be leaving to," West told ESPN. "Was this the end of me being productive? Every person is different in terms of their lives and how people age. I don't feel old, I feel really competitive.”
He continued, ”Sometimes you need to be challenged. I've kind of been defiant my whole life, the way I was raised, and I think this is like the defiant streak in me. I don't know.”
West will be forever grateful of his time in Golden State and conveyed that by saying, "The ownership did a hell of a job creating an environment that's fun. You see a lot of happy faces up there. I'll be forever grateful they gave me an opportunity to be involved. If I helped, that's up to them to judge. Not me.”
Looking forward to his new challenge, West is excited to work under owner Steve Ballmer and alongside general manager Lawrence Frank and head coach Doc Rivers, as the Clippers are still seeking their first NBA title.
"I'm very intrigued. I worked for a great owner [with the Los Angeles Lakers] in Jerry Buss. I worked for a fantastic owner in Michael Heisley in Memphis," West noted. "I worked for a fantastic group of people up [in Golden State]. And this owner, [Ballmer] is going to be that kind of an owner.”
“He's a winner and he wants to win,” West said of the outspoken owner. “He will let Doc and Lawrence Frank make decisions, and hopefully, I can help. That's really all I care about. I don't want to be the story. I don't want to be the headline. I'm going to have the same role as I did up there.”
While the Clippers’ coaching staff and front office is regarded among the best in the NBA already, adding West is a clear indication that the team isn’t messing around. With point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin set to test free agency, West's signing will likely play a role in those negotiations as well.
If both All-Stars bolt in free agency, West will remain an active voice in his new organization, and since he helped build and nurture the Warriors, he might have an inside insight regarding how to possibly beat them sometime in the near future.