Clippers' Kim Hughes Just Keeps Hanging Around
But do you think Hughes will be showing at the Clippers offices on Thursday?
Of course, he will.
"I'll be there,'' Hughes said in an interview Wednesday with FanHouse, joking the only way he won't is if his access card has been deactivated.
Call him the coach that won't go away.
Hughes, a Clippers assistant since 2003, was elevated to interim head coach last February after Mike Dunleavy moved exclusively to the general manager role before Dunleavy was fired in March. Hughes was let go on April 15 after closing the season 8-25, and it was thought he had been fired altogether from the organization.
Not so. After having cleaned out his office except for a few things, Hughes said he got a call April 20, and was hooked in with Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
"He said, 'Kim, why aren't you coming into work?''' Hughes recalled Sterling as saying in a phone hookup that also included Clippers president Andy Roeser. "I said, 'Well, I was terminated. When the organization tells you they're going in a different direction and tells you to turn in your [access card] and cell phone, I take it as being terminated.
"[Sterling] said, 'Who in the organization told you that?' And Andy replied sheepishly, 'I did, Mr. Sterling.' [Sterling] then said, 'That's fine, but I want to you come back to work.'''
Hughes could have said no and been paid off until June 30. But Hughes has been the ultimate team guy for the Clippers, and he took up the offer to help them prepare for last Thursday's draft.
Now, his contract is ready to expire and apparently Roeser is taking no chances.
"Andy told me to come into work [Thursday] although he doesn't know what is going to happen,'' said Hughes, who said his contract would have expired June 30, 2011 if Dunleavy had remained with the team, but his ouster cut a year off it. "That's fine. I don't have anything else to do.''
The Clippers are deciding between hiring Dwane Casey or Vinny Del Negro as their next head coach, and Hughes said Roeser has told both candidates Hughes could be available as an assistant for whichever coach is selected. Roeser did not immediately return a message Wednesday.
Hughes, 58, has been working out players at the Clippers practice facility, and he figures that's what he'll do Thursday if his access card still works.
"I would stay on (with the Clippers), but it has to be the right situation,'' said Hughes, who said he doesn't know Casey nor Del Negro very well but has great respect for each.
Regardless, Hughes said he doesn't plan to look for another job for a few days.
Hughes has been working with Clippers big men Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu, a small forward from Wake Forest drafted No. 8 last week. Hughes is quite impressed with how Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, is doing after he missed all of last season due to a knee injury.
"Blake's looking great,'' Hughes said. "He's got no restrictions. I have to tone down his work because he'll go to the point of exhaustion. ... He's the hardest working guy on the team.''
Hughes said Griffin is healthy enough to play in the NBA Summer League, which begins in Las Vegas for the Clippers on July 12. But Hughes said it's not his call whether Griffin plays.
It wouldn't be surprising if Hughes is still with the Clippers when they head to Las Vegas. He just keeps hanging around.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson.