Alvin Gentry Snubs Lakers, Joins Doc Rivers' New Clippers Coaching Staff

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 14:  Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns directs his team against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on February 14, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In a move that provided further evidence of the shifting balance of basketball power in L.A., Alvin Gentry spurned the Los Angeles Lakers to join Doc Rivers' staff as an associate head coach with the Los Angeles Clippers.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Gentry made his decision on June 26.

A big part of Gentry's choice had to have been the disparity in quality between the Lakers' and Clippers' on-court product. The Clips were a better team last year, amassing 56 wins to the Lakers' 45, but the records don't tell the whole story.

Because the Clips appeased Chris Paul by hiring Rivers, there's hardly any chance that Paul will be skipping town as a free agent. The Lakers can hardly say the same about Dwight Howard, who could very easily jump ship for Houston, Dallas or Atlanta.

And in a broader sense, the Clippers' talent is younger, more balanced and cheaper than the Lakers' is.

For a long time, such a thought would have been laughable. But here we are: The Clippers are in much better shape than the Lakers.

What's doubly telling about the disparate situations Los Angeles is that Gentry actually opted to sign with a franchise that fired him as head coach in 2003, instead of joining up with Mike D'Antoni, a coach he has worked with before and greatly admires.

Plus, Gentry has a great relationship with Lakers point guard Steve Nash, who led Gentry's Suns to the Western Conference finals in 2010.

Credit Gentry for subjugating sentiment and going with the smart choice. The Lakers are aging, have too little financial flexibility to make big moves and employ a head coach whose control of the team is tenuous at best.

According to Brett Pollakoff of NBC, Gentry could also have been swayed by the fact that the Clippers job could provide a relatively short path to another head coaching position, as Rivers could have designs on moving into the front office in the near future.

Should that happen, Gentry would essentially be next in line, which would make the Clippers job more appealing, and a better long-term situation to become a part of than the inherently volatile one being offered by the Lakers.

Plus, the money probably didn't hurt, either.

What a strange world we're living in; the Clippers actually outbid the Lakers for a coach? What's next, the Clippers kicking the Lakers out of the Staples Center?

Gentry probably won't be the only new assistant to join Rivers' staff, as TNT's David Aldridge notes:

But he's easily the acquisition that says the most about the upside-down state of NBA basketball in Los Angeles.