So once again the Los Angeles Clippers simply hired the guy who was already there. After months of looking for a new general manager, they settled on Gary Sacks, the guy they already knew well.
On the surface it feels like a very uninspired decision. The easy, cheapest way out. But these are different days for the Clippers. Better days where superstars like Blake Griffin decide to re-sign with the team for another five years and veteran free agents take less money to join him and Chris Paul for a chance to win. Smarter days where Griffin goes public with his support for Sacks to take over as general manager and the organization listens to him.
The Clippers had already been leaning toward promoting Sacks for months. ESPNLosAngeles.com reported in June that support for him within the organization had been building. So it wasn't just Griffin's endorsement that tipped the scales. It was a recognition that Sacks was well-liked and respected among the Clippers players, had paid his dues over the past two decades with the organization and perhaps most important, had been a big part in building the culture the team seems to have established since Griffin arrived. To look outside for another voice, for a new voice would be to risk changing that culture which was really just beginning to bear fruit.
Yes, Sacks has never had a job like this before. But he's also smart enough to know he hasn't had a job like this before. Expect him to bring in a few trusted advisers and lean heavily on team president Andy Roeser and head coach Vinny Del Negro for advice. But also expect him to lean on the players he has established close relationships with, something at which his former boss Neil Olshey became so adept. Griffin taught everyone within the organization that players in the NBA choose to play with other players now, not for franchises. Griffin was the carrot the Clippers used to entice Paul. The two of them became the draw for Chauncey Billups who then became the recruiter for mid-season acquisition Kenyon Martin. This offseason was more of the same as Billups re-signed, and the Clippers signed free agents Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford.
Sacks doesn't ascend to this job with a lot of job security. He'll need to prove himself both to owner Donald Sterling and the Clippers players. If he doesn't, the Clippers can cut bait and start a new search pretty easily in time for Chris Paul to decide whether to re-sign next summer.
But for now, the Clippers did a good thing here. They gave a good guy a chance. Sacks might make mistakes. He might not grow into the job as they hope. But he's already earned the support of Griffin, Paul and the rest of the Clippers players, and that's what will matter today and in the future.