The Clippers got some good news amid their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors when they learned that their general manager Michael Winger elected to stay in Los Angeles rather than pursue a new position in Minnesota.
Clippers GM Michael Winger informed the Wolves that he intends to stay with the LA Clippers to continue the work he has done with Lawrence Frank, Doc Rivers, Jerry West, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clippers organization, league sources tell @TheAthleticMIN— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) April 21, 2019
The Timberwolves had received permission from the Clippers to interview Winger for their opening as President of Basketball Operations, but the LA GM declined to even participate in the interview process. He will remain in the role that he has occupied for the past two seasons.
Winger came to Los Angeles as part of a front-office restructuring in the summer of 2017 after seven years as an executive in Oklahoma City, including a stint as assistant GM, and another five years before that in Cleveland.
According to Jon Krawczynski of the The Athletic, “Winger determined he could not consider leaving a competitive team so well positioned for the years to come.” LA is one of the top free-agent destinations this summer, poised to snag one, if not two, stars from one of the deepest classes in recent memory, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker.
Winger’s decision to stay on with the Clippers suggests that the team is in good shape for the offseason, and he believes in LA’s potential to continue to improve its team as it transforms into a contender just a short while after the breakup of Lob City.
The job with Minnesota would have been a nominal upgrade, but considering the Timberwolves are rumored to be retaining Scott Layden as their GM and Ryan Saunders as their coach, Winger would have had little opportunity to exert his influence as President without the ability to make those hires. Minnesota also has a much more unfriendly cap sheet, burdened by the onerous contracts of Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng, among others.
There remains the possibility that the Clippers will still lose their assistant GM, Trent Redden, to New Orleans this offseason. Redden is being targeted by his former boss David Griffin, the Pelicans’ new President of Basketball Operations, to be the new GM in New Orleans.
Regardless, one loss will be much more palatable than two, and will make it much easier for LA to sustain its positive momentum as it heads into a pivotal summer. As the Clippers try to sell superstars on their team, it certainly helps that LA’s front-office executives believe that this is a worthy place to call home.