The Clippers are hiring Lee Jenkins, a longtime journalist at Sports Illustrated, to be their Executive Director of Research and Identity, a role that exists nowhere else in the league, or probably in sports.
This is a fascinating move. When sports writers have been hired by teams in the past, it’s usually been analytical writers who go into basketball operations departments, or straight translations into teams’ communications and writing departments. This is something entirely different. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, who broke the news, put it well:
Jenkins has been one of the preeminent sports journalists and storytellers of this era and Clippers are banking that his talents can significantly impact a front office's basketball operations. Story soon on ESPN. https://t.co/9QWNgpIJ7B— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 18, 2018
Lee Jenkins has done some of the best NBA journalistic work of the past decade (at least). He was specifically requested by LeBron James to break the story on his return to Cleveland, and has access to players and their inner circles like few others. His knowledge of players, and how they think and operate, could be of tremendous value to the Clippers. Additionally, his connections with many top NBA players could also be of use in free agent recruiting.
Lee Jenkins is someone who is incredibly highly regarded in NBA circles. The Clippers getting him in their front office is a huge win, and a unique tack to take in building an executive team. It will be incredibly interesting to see his impact on the Clippers’ front office and the direction of their team.
Woj’s full story on the Clippers’ signing of Jenkins can be found here. Quotes from Jenkins are also included, where he praises the team and the management already in place.