Clippers reportedly dealing with front-office ‘power struggle’


Aug 18, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers (left) and owner Steve Ballmer at press conference at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a summer that has almost exclusively revolved around remarkable success due to the Los Angeles Clippers’ rebuild, a new problem has reportedly emerged in the team’s front-office. Not surrounding new charismatic owner Steve Ballmer, but a member of the executive team responsible for dealing with the business side of the franchise.

Here is an extract from TMZ Sports, who have reported that the Clippers’ executive problem revolves around their president of business operations Gillian Zucker:

"“Zucker was tasked with growing the business side of things when she was brought on back in November, while Doc — president of basketball operations and head coach — is supposed to control all things related to winning.But we’re told Zucker has been increasingly more involved on the basketball side … inserting herself into things like player development and playing time decisions … and it’s leaving many people confused, since she’s often not on the same page as Doc…In fact, we’re told one player was so frustrated with the power struggle, he actually made the decision not to re-sign with the Clippers because it wasn’t worth the headache.Another point … Gillian comes from a NASCAR background, she was president of the Auto Club Speedway for 9 years — and players tell us it’s painfully obvious she doesn’t understand NBA culture.”"

As TMZ pointed out, Zucker doesn’t have any background knowledge in the NBA. The Auto Club Speedway is the largest race track on the West Coast, but it’s not exactly NBA basketball. As Zucker explained herself during her introductory press conference when she joined the Clippers, she has experience in a variety of fields (via Rowan Kavner of

"“I started my career in hockey, and then I did public relations work for the NFL, then I went into baseball and then motorsports. Here I am, the destination, the NBA. I think that having the perspective of a bunch of different sports, and the way that fans sort of embrace their teams is one that is pretty consistent across all of the sports. Why they are passionate and what they are passionate about, that changes a little bit and there are some nuances there.”"

So, equipped with a great deal of experience, is Gillian Zucker really interfering with Doc Rivers’ work as president of basketball operations and the head coach of the Clippers themselves? That’s difficult for us to know right now, especially as there is only the one report to go from.

TMZ did also add in their report that they spoke with the Clippers’ V.P. of communications Seth Burton, who said the following:

"“When you have new ownership, there’s a learning curve. Things are new and things change. In terms of what players think, I don’t know. I don’t know of anything directly that would affect the players in a negative way.”"

If Zucker is trying to be involved with or influence Doc Rivers’ control of basketball matters, this could cause a real problem for the team. It’s not even been two weeks since renowned basketball personality Bill Simmons went on the record saying that the Clippers are one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the entire league.

Besides for the fact that Zucker doesn’t have experience with a NBA organization, it would create an extremely confusing dynamic for players if there appears to be two people acting in charge. With Doc being a championship winning coach, it’s safe to say that he needs to be in control of everything that is remotely basketball related. As of this moment, though, we can’t really be too sure what the exact details are.

There may well be more developments to this story in the near future, so be sure to follow us here at Clipperholics for any updates on the matter.

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