Despite the fact that they have never advanced to the NBA Finals before, the Los Angeles Clippers are a championship contender in the Western Conference. Owner Steve Ballmer has made some big moves to his organization through the years to set them up for success and he may need to do so once again with general manager Michael Winger’s departure.
On Wednesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Winger is leaving the Clippers to join the Washington Wizards as the new President of Monumental Basketball. Winger will have full leadership over the Wizards, as well as the Washington Mystics of the WNBA and the Capital City Go-Go of the NBA G League.
In an offseason where a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to change the way front offices approach free agency and the way their teams are constructed, the Clippers now face the tough task of losing one of the lead voices in their organization while having one of the league’s highest payrolls.
A vast majority of Los Angeles’ roster remains under contract for the 2023-24 season, including the likes of All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, which makes the Clippers an extremely attractive destination for front office personnel. What Ballmer decides to do with his team’s front office in wake of Winger’s departure will make-or-break the Clippers’ chances of contending for a title over the next few seasons, especially given their ties to current Golden State Warriors executive Bob Myers.
With his contract set to expire in July, Myers has yet to reach an agreement with the Warriors on a new deal despite multiple offers from the team. There is a belief around the league that the architect of Golden State’s dynasty could take the year off in order to refresh and spend more time with his family. Should he stay in the NBA though and leave the Warriors, the Clippers with their front office opening will loom large, as league sources informed ClutchPoints earlier this month that the team has held internal discussions about pursuing Myers.
How Myers would fit in with Lawrence Frank still being the Clippers’ president of basketball operations is unknown, but Ballmer is committed to making his organization the best it can be. Bringing in Myers and making him the highest paid executive in the league would surely increase their chances of competing for a title.
The Clippers have a new arena opening in 2024, they have the makings of a championship team and as mentioned, Ballmer will be willing to meet any price necessary in order to win a championship. On the other side of things, the Warriors have a proven tack record of success and Myers is the main reason for this.
Winning four championships in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022, as well as holding key relationships with the team’s core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and head coach Steve Kerr, walking away from the Warriors would be extremely emotional and hard for Myers to do. Everyone within that organization wants him back, which is why stepping away to think about his long-term future instead of joining another organization is very much an option at this point.
With Winger departing for Washington D.C. though, there is no better time for the Clippers to make a massive move in their front office by landing someone like Myers from the Warriors. Not to mention, Jerry West remains involved with Los Angeles’ front office and Myers has always viewed the NBA legend as a mentor.
Regardless of what happens in the Clippers’ front office with Winger’s departure, the organization will still enter the 2023-24 season as favorites in the Western Conference, assuming they can stay healthy. Leonard and Paul make up one of the better two-way duos in the entire league and if Ballmer is willing to continue paying heavy taxes to keep this team together, they have the experience to make a real title run.