The Clippers acquitted themselves quite well at the 2019 NBA Awards. In addition to Lou Williams winning his record-tying third Sixth Man of the Year, Montrezl Harrell was also a finalist for that award and earned two first-place votes while finishing third while Doc Rivers finished second in Coach of the Year voting.
One award that wasn’t given a special presentation on the broadcast was Executive of the Year. This honor is voted on by the top executives from all 30 NBA teams, truly an award given by peers. Jon Horst of the Milwaukee Bucks took home this year’s prize.
Horst made a number of moves to turn the Bucks from an Eastern Conference also-ran into a championship contender. He hired Mike Budenholzer to coach the team. Horst also brought in Brook Lopez, which revolutionized Milwaukee’s offense, and acquired George Hill and Nikola Mirotic by trade during the season. The Bucks won 60 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after not having won a playoff series since 2001, making this a well-deserved accolade for the Milwaukee GM.
The Clippers President of Basketball Operations, Lawrence Frank, finished third in voting. Frank received two first-place votes, four second-place votes, and four third-place votes. Much of the work Frank did — along with the rest of the talented LA front office, including Michael Winger, Trent Redden, Jerry West — likely won’t be realized until after this league year, which makes Executive of the Year a tricky award to evaluate over a 12-month time frame. However, there were enough moves for Frank to earn recognition in 2018-19.
The Clippers drafted Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (also Jerome Robinson, but it’s too early to tell if that was a plus or not). They got Montrezl Harrell to re-sign on a bargain 2-year deal worth $12 million. The team also traded for Johnathan Motley in July.
During the year, LA executed a mammoth trade to send Tobias Harris (and Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott) to Philadelphia in exchange for Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, two future first-round picks, and two future seconds. The Clippers then traded Mike Muscala to the Lakers for Ivica Zubac, who immediately became the starting center. The team also acquired Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green at the trade deadline, both of whom became valuable rotation pieces during the playoff push and postseason — Green even became a starter during the Warriors series — all for the low cost of Avery Bradley.
At the end of the season, the Clippers picked up Rodney McGruder off waivers, giving them his rights as a restricted free agent with a low cap hold heading into next year.
Admittedly, I have glossed over a few transactions that didn’t pay dividends, like signing Luc Mbah a Moute or trading Austin Rivers for Marcin Gortat, but neither of those had long-term consequences for LA. Even the lesser moves like re-signing Bradley or signing Scott ended up paying dividends later.
Suffice it to say, the Clippers basketball operations were worthy of recognition for their work last season. And they’re off to a good start for the 2019-20 Executive of the Year Award as well. Frank signed Doc Rivers to an extension, used one of the picks acquired in the Harris trade to move up and draft Mfiondu Kabengele, and found great value in the second round with Terance Mann. If the Clippers strike in free agency, there could easily be some more hardware in Playa Vista.