LA Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank was named the 2019-20 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year Thursday, the team’s GM winning the award by a fairly sizable margin.
Crucially, voters were asked to vote on the season through March 11, when the NBA season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, not taking into account the pre-playoff seeding games in the Orlando bubble. In that span, the Clippers played to a 44-20 record, with the offseason blockbuster additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George coming in and out of the lineup due to injuries, with the league’s release highlighting the Clippers using 29 different starting lineups in those 64 games.
Frank has been with the Clippers organization since the fall of 2014. He first joined as an assistant coach to Doc Rivers, before a reorganization in the front office in June 2016 gave GM powers to Frank, taking those duties off Rivers and taking Frank off the bench. Frank has unquestionably been part of the best era to date in Clippers history, with Steve Ballmer taking over as team owner and the high-profile additions of Leonard and George, but this season ended in sour fashion for the Clips, with the team losing a seven-game series in the second round to the lower-seeded Denver Nuggets, leading to the departure of Rivers.
In that light, Frank’s case to be Executive of the Year doesn’t look quite as strong, since the Clippers had ambitions to reach the NBA Finals and yes, win their first title this year. But within the voting parameters, and considering the Clippers did make a step up this season in terms of their realistic ambitions on the court, it was a successful season in a lot of ways. Fans and neutrals alike may or may not agree with that logic, but there is some real sense there, and it could look like a better pick in the future if the Clippers do eventually win the NBA title.
At any rate, congrats to Lawrence and here’s hoping he can keep grinding to find the right coach and roster to put together a better campaign next season.