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Clippers hire Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins to a front office job

A writer joining an NBA front office doesn’t happen that often.

The Los Angeles Clippers may have made one of the surprising moves of the NBA offseason, signing Sports illustrated writer Lee Jenkins to a front office role, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Jenkins’ official title will be Executive Director of Research and Identity.

Jenkins has written for Sports illustrated since 2007, focusing on basketball. He has written profiles on Kevin Durant and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Most famously, he and LeBron James worked on the letter that would reveal James’ Cleveland homecoming in 2014.

This is a strange hire in that writers don’t get hired to front offices. Typically analysts, not reporters, get hired albeit Jenkins isn’t the first Sports Illustrated writer to find himself in an NBA front office. The Toronto Raptors hired Luke Winn as Director Of Prospect Strategy in 2017.

Because the move is so unusual it caught writers and reporters off guard:

Lee talked to ESPN about his career change:

“As a reporter, I can ask a hundred questions to a hundred people, but I could never know what really goes on behind the curtain,” Jenkins told ESPN on Monday night. “The deadline. The draft. Free agency. All the strategy and gymnastics and prep work that goes into those events, but also the everyday of an organization. On a personal level, I came to the realization that no matter how many player profiles I write, I still have a ton to learn about the NBA, and the best way to learn it is through immersion.

While the ESPN interview is great, this announcement could have been even better had LeBron interviewed Jenkins in the same way Jenkins interviewed LeBron back in 2014.