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Succeeding Elgin Baylor: Clippers front-office moves ... or non-moves

November 8, 2010 | 10:36 pm


 If anything, there was no shortage of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, at least two succession plans in the latter stages of Elgin Baylor’s front-office career with the Clippers.

 One was proposed by team President Andy Roeser and the other by league power broker and agent Warren LeGarie. If it seems as though LeGarie represents most of the front-office types and coaches in the league, well, that would be correct.

 But LeGarie is the agent for former Clippers GM and coach Mike Dunleavy and current Clippers vice president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. He also represents Dwane Casey, the Mavericks assistant who was a finalist in the Clippers coaching search this summer.

 LeGarie wrote a letter to Clippers team owner Donald Sterling attempting to help Baylor in October 2006 and admitted his approach was “unorthodox.” Apparently he had heard that Baylor might be on his way out and suggested a timetable, one beneficial to the parties involved.

 His letter was contained in supporting documents of the Clippers’ motion for summary judgment in the Baylor lawsuit, documents obtained by The Times.

 “…He [Baylor] has privately told me recently that he only wants to be involved on a day-to-day basis for just another two seasons,” LeGarie wrote. “And given the unprecedented success of the team recently, it seems like the logical timetable for both him and your organization.

 “….And it is his [Dunleavy’s] sincere belief that Elgin should remain an integral part of management for the next two seasons. By then, the club will have solidified its core players, and Elgin’s assistant Neil Olshey,should be ready to assume most, if not all, of Elgin’s present responsibilities. To do it sooner could prove to be disastrous, certainly not something worth risking considering the inconsequential amount he has always been paid by the club.

 “It is my [and Coach’s] sincere opinion that Elgin’s departure should be handled with the utmost dignity and grace. And it would mean as much to the Clipper organization as it will to Elgin. To let him go prematurely would suggest that the Coach was possibly behind it. That is totally unacceptable to Mike.”

 But Baylor, in his deposition, maintained he had no knowledge of the LeGarie letter.

 Similarly, Baylor, in his deposition, said he had no memory about a conversation with Roeser in October 2005 in Santa Barbara about a succession plan for the general manager position.

 Roeser had suggested that Michael Smith might be a potential assistant GM, a possible successor to Baylor. The former Clippers player has been a longtime TV color commentator for the organization.

 Clippers general counsel Robert Platt asked: “Do you recall Andy Roeser soliciting your thoughts in October 2005 regarding who might make a good assistant GM?”

 Baylor: “I don’t recall. I don’t remember.”

 Platt: “Do you recall Andy talking about the need for the team to have a succession plan?”

 Baylor: “No.”

 --Lisa Dillman