The Clippers have been retooling both sides of their bench this offseason. While some players showed up today for pre-media day shoots (featuring the debut of short shorts Chris Douglas-Roberts!), the team was busy finalizing a deal with new assistant coach Lawrence Frank, who received a long-expected buyout today from the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets had hired Frank last year as the lead assistant to rookie head coach Jason Kidd, giving him a six-year, $6 million contract, at that time the most expensive for an assistant coach in NBA history (that honor is now held by Tyronn Lue, who left the Clippers this offseason to become the associate head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers).
Frank's season did not go as expected, as Kidd began butting heads and arguing with him within the first week of the season. By early December, Kidd decided to demote Frank to writing daily reports for the team, removing him from the bench. He held that position until today (the Nets elected not to add him to new head coach Lionel Hollins's staff), and finally ended a chapter of his career that he'll likely want to forget as soon as possible.
Frank comes to Los Angeles with an impressive résumé, previously serving as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets (2004-2009) and the Detroit Pistons (2011-2013), while spending the season in between as Doc Rivers' head assistant for the Boston Celtics. There he filled the lead defensive assistant role previously occupied by Tom Thibodeau, who had departed to coach the Chicago Bulls. Rivers has always valued Frank highly, even offering him the lead assistant role last season when he first joined the Clippers, before hiring Alvin Gentry to fill that position. Reports that Rivers was targeting him again this offseason have been circling since mid-June.
Frank brings another defensively-minded presence to the coaching staff, running team defenses in both Boston and Brooklyn. He rounds out the refurbished Clippers coaching staff, who lost three assistant coaches over the offseason — Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue went to the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively, while Kevin Eastman was promoted to vice-president of basketball operations. Assistant Player Skills coach Howard Eisley also departed for the Washington Wizards.
The Clippers not only weathered the losses of so many talented assistants, they arguably replaced them with even more accomplished ones. Lawrence Frank is the third assistant to join the Clippers this season, alongside former Knicks and Hawks head coach Mike Woodson and ex-Washington Wizards assistant (and Clippers star) Sam Cassell. Holdovers Armond Hill and Brendan O'Connor round out the assistant coaching staff. Los Angeles now boasts, if not the league's best coaching staff, certainly one of its most accomplished and recognizable.
With the recent coaching hires and free agent acquisitions, the Clippers appear as talented as they've ever been — both on and off the court — and look to be surefire championship contenders this year.