The 2017/18 NBA season will signal a new dawn for the Los Angeles Clippers.
For the first time since 2011, they will start a campaign without point guard Chris Paul after he was traded to the Houston Rockets.
After years of underachievement, the big three of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is no longer. And owner Steve Ballmer has made a front office change that will send shockwaves through the organisation.
Head coach Doc Rivers, who was tasked with leading the franchise to their first NBA championship when he was hired in 2013, has seen his influence over the organisation cut dramatically.
The former Boston Celtics head coach, who won a ring in 2008, has, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, been removed from the role of president of basketball operations – a position he held since June 2014. He will now just be responsible for what happens on the court.
With a new-look team, that has seen Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams come in to join Griffin and Jordan, it appears the Clippers’ championship window has slammed firmly shut.
In a stacked Western Conference, the Clippers are no longer one of the front-runners and are unlikely to finish with homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
According to Woj, Rivers will still be heavily involved in matters of personnel but will work with Lawrence Frank, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, with both reporting directly to Ballmer.
The owner told ESPN: “I’ve owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner’s responsibility is — and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs.
“The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn’t the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent-minded people.
“There are different relationships that a player needs to have with the coach and the front office,” Ballmer added. “Doc put Lawrence in charge of the non-coaching aspects of the front office last year, and he’s done a fantastic job. I want each of them to dig in and do what they do best. Lawrence has come on so strong in that role, and that has helped us go down this path.”