Where was Elgin?
Clippers center Chris Kaman didn't spend a great deal of time around Southern California in the summer, mostly because he was playing for Germany in the Beijing Olympics.
So Kaman didn't think much when he didn't see Elgin Baylor, who had been the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations and general manager since 1986. Even though Baylor didn't come to practice all the time, Kaman finally started wondering as the days passed in the Clippers' training camp.
"That was weird. I was asking questions and I wasn't getting any answers," said Kaman, who was drafted by Baylor in 2003. "I guess they weren't sure, either. It's unfortunate. . . .
"A legend, you know. Everybody called him a legend. It's not like he's dead or anything. But he's just moved on."
Kaman was talking Wednesday after practice at the Clippers' training facility at Playa Vista, paying homage to the man he called the "great face" for the organization and "probably the No. 1 small forward of all time."
This was one day after the team announced that Baylor was moving on after a 22-year relationship with the club and that Coach Mike Dunleavy would assume Baylor's duties. Whether Baylor jumped or was pushed remained in dispute.
Though many of the details remain unclear, several pieces of information emerged. Sources with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to comment publicly said that Baylor had been working without a contract since the early 1990s, having been told that one was not necessary.
Now it appears Baylor is gearing up for a battle, hiring attorney Carl Douglas and employment law specialist Alvin Pittman.
"Elgin gave 22 years of his life to the Clippers and it's regrettable they are trying to put him out to pasture in this way," Douglas said.
Douglas acknowledged that there "is a dispute over the circumstances of his [Baylor's] separation" with the Clippers. They are trying to get the matter resolved informally. If that doesn't happen, Douglas said they will "leave our options open."
Later, at Clippers headquarters, Dunleavy noted that not much had changed. He guessed that negotiations between the Clippers and Baylor had been going on for about a month.
Dunleavy served in a dual capacity as coach and general manager in Milwaukee, and said he will have more assistance here than he did with the Bucks. There will be no change in his salary with the extra title.
"When I was in Milwaukee, we did the best with the resources that we had, but we didn't have a lot of people from the scouting standpoint," he said. "I think we have good guys out there bringing us good information."
He was asked about the inherent conflict between the win-now coaching mind-set and the long-term view of a front-office executive.
"Honestly, my thinking never changes," Dunleavy said. "I've always thought in terms of . . . I make decisions which may not be the right way for me, from a coaching standpoint. But I always make decisions based on like I owned the team.
"I only make decisions that are right for the owner of the team. What I perceive to be right for the team. I wouldn't tell an owner to do a contract that I wouldn't do as an owner of the team. I wouldn't tell him to make a trade that I wouldn't do, if I wasn't the owner of the team."