The first name that came to mind after the Clippers' rude and unceremonious news release came out Tuesday night announcing Mike Dunleavy's firing was none other than Jerry West. The Logo had been long rumored to be a candidate to take over the Clippers' woebegone basketball operations if -- and, as it turned out, when -- they finally "severed ties" with Dunleavy.
From West himself Tuesday night: Not gonna happen.
"No contact, no interest, not looking to work anymore," West said by telephone after the Dunleavy news broke. "Time for someone younger to have an opportunity to do something. I have not been contacted, nor would I have any interest."
But West, who was at the center of speculation to take over the Knicks' basketball operations when Isiah Thomas was deposed two years ago, left the door open ever so slightly to returning to a front office in some capacity.
"Unless there was something that was along the lines of a consultant job -- a working consultant," West said. "I don’t want a title or need a title. It was fun to be involved. It's a tough business. But I'm not looking for a job nor am I putting my name out there for any job. I've always felt we all have a lifespan with what we’re doing. Mine has been served."
West, 71, left the Memphis Grizzlies after his contract expired in 2007 and hasn't been involved in running a team since. The architect of two Lakers dynasties is forever linked with job openings, though. Another credible Jerry -- Colangelo -- would be high on any serious team's list of candidates. During All-Star weekend in Dallas, Colangelo tried to tamp down speculation that he was in the running to take over the Nets -- but also said if a team called, he'd listen.
Meantime, with another important draft and the biggest free-agent class in NBA history looming, the Clippers had better hope the promotion of assistant GM Neil Olshey works out. After reading the Clippers' brutally worded news release on Dunleavy's dismissal -- and knowing the organization's track record for losing and cheapness -- what credible candidate would want to work there?
"The team has simply not made sufficient progress during Dunleavy’s seven-year tenure," the news rocket said. "The Clippers want to win now."
And for the past quarter century, too, right?
The irony is that buried somewhere in all that dysfunction is a fairly promising roster and cap flexibility. Clippers fans can look forward to Blake Griffin's return in 2011-12, and Dunleavy left Donald Sterling enough cap space to get a marquee free agent if anybody wants to go.
That's almost as hard to imagine as the Clippers winning anything on Sterling's watch, no matter who's picking and coaching the players.