Clipper update: Kim Hughes dismissed
(Remember, Mike Dunleavy got his walking papers as general manager while the Clippers' game was in progress at Orlando in March.)
It was no secret the last few weeks that Hughes didn't have a long shelf life as coach, not when the team was on its way to what would be an 8-25 record under his guidance. But he arrived at the team's Playa Vista headquarters on Thursday morning, braced for a long day of exit interviews with the players.
Around 7:30 a.m., he met with General Manager Neil Olshey and team President Andy Roeser, participating via conference call as he was in New York for league meetings.
Roeser "said that Mr. Sterling wanted to go in a different direction," Hughes said, speaking of owner Donald Sterling.
Hughes was taking the high road and said he thanked them for letting him know now, rather than at the end of June when his contract expired, so he could start a job search immediately.
The experience of running a team "made me a better coach," Hughes said.
"I wish it could have turned out better," he said in a telephone interview. "I wish I could have worked with the guys next year. ... I'm not even in shock."
The team announced that the other members of the coaching staff would "remain in their current roles at this time."
Roeser said in a statement: "We appreciate Kim's contributions during his time here especially over the last two and a half months. But we also know that our responsibility is to do what is in the organization's immediate best interests for its ability to move forward. This season was an overall disappointment and certainly fell short of both our expectations and what should rightly have been anticipated by our fans. We will move deliberately and productively to regain the successful competitive position we had all hoped for when this past season began.
"We think our situation is extremely attractive, both from the standpoint of the talented and popular core of players who are already under contract, as well as the salary cap flexibility we have created for this summer."
There is no shortage of strong candidates out there, with the names Larry Brown and ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy at the top of the list. The Bobcats' Brown, a former Clippers coach, said this week he won't coach for anyone else but Charlotte owner Michael Jordan. Still, what fun is the NBA without new and creative Brown rumors?
As for Hughes, he is turning his attention to finding a new job.
"I'm already bored," he said.
He wasn't kidding.
-- Lisa Dillman
Photo: Kim Hughes. Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire.