(Editor’s note: Neil Olshey did not actually write this letter)
Dear Clipper Nation,
For the eight full seasons and seven months this year when I was an at-will employee, getting paid month to month like many of you, it was my pleasure to serve the Clippers on your behalf.
You stuck with us through thick and thin, getting behind a gritty 2006 team and embracing a young nucleus we built around in the years following. We had our share of failures (sorry about that whole Baron thing, but Elton…), but I hope you’d agree that I left the team in better shape than I found it. Cub Scout’s honor.
Under Mike Dunleavy we had accumulated an impressive collection of assets, so when I took over as the general manager in March of 2010, my goal was to continue building towards a championship roster.
In the draft that summer, I passed on Paul George for Al-Farouq Aminu, but then I think I redeemed myself by trading a future 1st rounder for the 18th pick, Eric Bledsoe. That pick I traded will wind up as the 22nd pick in this year’s draft, and Bledsoe looks like a pretty good player, so that should work out well for you.
Then, after watching a team of 23-year olds win 32 games in 2010-11, I decided that the best course of action would be to go after the best point guard in basketball to pair him with Blake Griffin.
So I did everything I could to get Chris Paul. And when that first deal with the Lakers and Rockets came out, I was thinking it was on to Plan B. But thanks to David Stern, I got a second chance. We gave up a bunch, but we got Paul, we kept Bledsoe, and we had the best year in franchise history. I hear the haters out there, saying that the deal “landed in our lap,” but you always knew better. You appreciated the work it took to get that done.
We fell short against the Spurs — man, it sure would’ve been nice to see Bledsoe in the 3rd quarter of Game 3 — but we were looking forward to doing the work to improve the roster for next year. The year we were supposed to go for it.
But, about that work…
You see, I have already done a lot of work around here. And, while you guys were enjoying those free playoff t-shirts on your seats, I began to worry that I’d just keep doing good work and wind up getting paid in those shirts at some point. I know it sounds crazy, but you run that risk with a “wait-and-see” organization. And the Clippers are a wait-and-see organization.
So when Mr. Allen called me up after the season and offered to fly me to London to discuss the possibility of a real, multi-year contract to be Portland’s general manager, I accepted that offer. And when he offered me a real, multi-year contract, I accepted that one, too.
It’s not you, it’s me. I swear.
I love the bike lanes, I can’t help it, and the job presents a new challenge that I think I’m ready for.
But mostly, it’s nice to be wanted. Hopefully you’ll understand.
To Mr. Sterling: Thanks for the opportunity. You gave me nine years of mostly stable employment and taught me everything I’ll need to know about dealing with ownership.
It became pretty clear that you viewed me as some sort of restricted free agent executive, for whom you could match any other contract offer, and for that, I apologize. I know it is my responsibility to make sure everyone in the organization is up to speed on front office matters, and I neglected to tell you that there is no such thing as restricted free agency for your G.M.
To Vinny: Thanks for the memories, bud. We had a good run, but ultimately it just didn’t work out. You gave it your all and had the guys playing hard, and you even tried to talk more about “X’s and O’s” as time went on, which is awesome.
If I may offer one word of advice on my way out: Trey Thompkins might be worth a look this year. He could be that stretch-4 you are looking for off the bench. Also, Bledsoe. But I think you knew that. (Did you know that?)
Hey, come to think of it, you are part G.M. now, aren’t you? Since that’s the case — if you ever consider moving those young kids you won’t play anyway, let me know. I have a guy, Wes Matthews, who plays the 2 and would probably be willing to stand in the corner. Could be had for the right price. Just sayin’…
All the best,