Hughes still working for Clippers
When Kim Hughes was relieved of his duties as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers on April 15, he assumed his seven-year run with the franchise was over.
He left the team facility, turned in his access card, his laptop and other company materials, and began planning a job search. If there was one thing about the situation he was grateful for, it was that the Clippers had acted swiftly, allowing him time to get started looking for a new job.
As it turned out though, his search never had to begin.
The following Tuesday -- four days after he was "relieved of his duties as interim head coach," he met with Clippers owner Donald Sterling who informed him that he still had a job with the Clippers until his contract is up on June 30.
Hughes has been reporting for work to the Clippers training facility in Playa Vista every day since. Like the Clippers other assistant coaches, he is reviewing game tape from this season, working out players and helping to evaluate potential free agents.
"Well, basically Mr. Sterling called me on Tuesday and told me there was a misunderstanding," Hughes explained. "I came back in on Wednesday and have been here ever since.
"We had a long talk, a very good talk, and he said he didn't want me leaving the Clippers family and I told him I never wanted to leave."
Hughes would've been paid through June 30, regardless. So in essence, coming to work every day after being relieved of his duties as interim coach is his option.
Nevertheless, it's a rather unorthodox situation as Hughes left his April 15 meeting with team president Andy Roeser and general manager Neil Olshey with the impression he'd been fired.
"I was surprised,'' Hughes said on April 15. "It's not that I have my head in the sand. It's just that I'd hoped, maybe wished, I'd get the summer to come up with a game plan and come back for training camp.
"But I fully understand their point of view. In my meeting with Neil Olshey and Andy Roeser, who was on a conference call, they said that Donald Sterling wanted to go in another direction.
"I understand that. I don't have any regrets. I was given a chance to coach an NBA team, which is something I've always wanted to do. Whether I was put in a position to fail or not is a moot point. I could've turned the job down. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. I really had fun doing it, even under difficult circumstances."
The team's statement from that day did not specifically use the word "fired," but it did speak of "moving forward" in a statement attributed to Roeser.
When asked about Hughes' continued role with the team, the Clippers responded with an e-mail to ESPNLosAngeles.com, stating:
"The Clippers and Kim Hughes parted on good terms and, under the circumstances, the team is more than happy to have him continue to use the resources of our offices, work out some players and review film on NBA free agents."
Hughes had been elevated from assistant coach to interim head coach after Mike Dunleavy was fired in early February. Hughes went 8-25 in his stint as interim coach.
Ramona Shelburne is a writer and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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