According to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the LA Clippers have added Dan Craig, former Heat assistant coach, to Ty Lue’s staff. Jackson adds that the Clippers offered Craig more money than the Heat, and that he is hopeful that this step could lead to a head coaching position in the future:
The money, of course, is Steve Ballmer at work. It’s certainly nice to have the wealthiest owner in the league regularly commit to opening his checkbook to put the team in a position to succeed. As far as a future head coaching gig goes, I’ve seen a bit of confusion on why this position would be better for him than the lead assistant job in Miami. It isn’t because “Clippers assistant coach” looks better than “Heat assistant coach,” it’s about networking. Craig has only worked for one NBA team in his career–Miami. From a 2003 internship in the video department to the #2 chair in the NBA Finals earlier this month, he’s been a Heat lifer. The Heat have been a remarkably stable organization over that time, which is certainly a good thing, but that means that he hasn’t worked with a wide range of NBA coaches and executives.
With the Clippers, Craig will get a change to work daily and impress Ty Lue, Lawrence Frank, Trent Redden, Michael Winger, Mark Hughes, and Jerry West. If Kenny Atkinson, Chauncey Billups, and Larry Drew also join the Clippers’ coaching staff, as expected, add their names to the list too. Lue is a recent championship head coach, so make that two (in addition to Miami’s Spoelstra) who would endorse Craig’s ability to take over a team. Frank is the lead executive of one of the league’s top teams (the Clippers). Redden, Winger, and Hughes have all been sought after by other team’s front offices. West is (along with Miami’s Pat Riley) one of the most respected and well-networked people in the league. Atkinson is likely to get a good job as a head coach or in a front office in the next few years. Billups has been a candidate for head coach and general manager positions. Drew has been a longtime assistant and former head coach who will always have a job in the league as long as he wants it.
Building productive relationships with this new crew of colleagues and leaving a strong impression on them will help Craig’s career. Fast forward 3-5 years, and at least a handful of these Clippers coaches and executives will be spread across the league in high-ranking positions (if not as the general managers of teams), and when one of those teams has an opening at head coach, Craig will be a much stronger and more trusted candidate than he is with organizations where he doesn’t have connections.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein adds that the Clippers have now formally interviewed Chauncey Billups for an assistant coach position, somewhat undercutting the previous assumption that his addition to the staff as Associate Head Coach was already a done deal as part of Lue’s hiring. Still, Stein says that Billups, along with Atkinson and Drew, are expected to reach deals to join the Clippers’ staff.
213Hoops is an independently owned and operated L.A. Clippers blog by Clippers fans, for Clippers fans. If you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. Subscriptions start at $1 a month and support from readers like you goes a long way towards helping us keep 213Hoops sustainable, growing, and thriving.