Clippers Make Right Decision, Retain Coach
Vinny Del Negro will coach the Clippers again next season and that’s the right decision.
The Clippers have had a dismal history which includes replacing coaches too often. But owner Donald Sterling appears to be on a winning streak lately.
Clippers President Andy Roeser and general manager Neil Olshey went to Sterling and said they were in agreement that Del Negro should be retained. Sterling listened and agreed.
There was considerable speculation late in the season that Del Negro was in trouble as the Clippers dropped in the Western Conference standings. But the team began winning.
Then, in the first round playoff series against Memphis, a team feared by all possible playoff opponents, the Clippers won the deciding game in Memphis.
They were swept by San Antonio in the second round, but getting through one round with star players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin injured underscored Del Negro’s ability to keep his team together in a crisis.
Expectations soared when the season started. Paul and Griffin were sensational and the Clippers easily defeated the Oklahoma Thunder one night at Staples Center.
Could the Clippers be better than the Lakers? Could they get a No. 1 or 2 seed for the playoffs?
These goals seemed within reach. But a season-ending injury to Chaucey Billups, a former NBA Finals MVP, significantly reduced the team’s chances.
It’s always possible an owner will blame the coach when plans unravel. It’s happened with the Clippers many times. But this time it didn’t happen.
Are the Clippers a championship team? Not yet.
Del Negro calls them a work in progress. Important moves must be made this summer.
But the Clippers did last as long as the Lakers in the playoffs. They consistently attracted sellout crowds They came a long way this season.
The worst thing Sterling could have done is bring in a new coaching staff with different ideas.
Look what happened to the Lakers when Phil Jackson retired. They hired Mike Brown, who changed the offense.
Instead of staying with something that been extremely successful the players had to operate in a different way, and it didn’t work.
Del Negro may tweak his system but he isn’t likely to alter it drastically next season. Just improve on what he started.
If Billups signs again with the Clippers, if Paul and Griffin overcome their injuries, the Clippers could be a force next season.
Olshey, the architect of the Clippers’ roster, did such good work he was approached by other teams. This week he moved to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he is likely to rebuild that team too.