CHICAGO, March 27, 2012 – When the Clippers started their season, they were built to win. All-Pro point guard Chris Paul joined the fold to go alongside fellow All-Star starter Blake Griffin, block machine DeAndre Jordan and considerably underrated wingman Caron Butler. While there were some naysayers concerning how well the team would meld, they generally put those opinions aside at the start of the season, racing out to start 20-11.
But there was one serious elephant in the room while Clippers fans were giddy with excitement this preseason. The coach that wasn’t good enough to get Derrick Rose a seed higher than seven was leading their team to battle in 2012; it’s now very apparent that Vinny Del Negro needs to leave. He’s losing control of a team that he wasn’t coaching very well to begin with, and Clippers management should move on.
ESPN’s sources within the franchise said Coach Del Negro was losing control of his team, which is in unacceptable in all aspects. Every team in the NBA is talented beyond human comprehension; often the difference between a win and a loss is overall effort level. Players have their contracts locked in for the season, so that’s not a tremendous in-game motivator. If not money, is there anything to play for as a group besides your coach? There are players that work hard for personal satisfaction or love of the game, or are looking to have a good year to get a bigger contract, but a coach’s motivation can often be as big a factor as anything.
The evidence that teams play for their chiefs is all around the NBA. Look at the Bulls, for example. Tom Thibodeau demands only the best out of his team, and they give him their best on a nightly basis to the tune of a 40-10 start. When the Heat got off to a slow start on their inaugural Big Three, their coach Erik Spoelstra was immediately thrown onto the public hot seat. What was the result? The Heat steamrolled into the NBA Finals.
Players need a coach they can play for, a coach that motivates them to give all they can in each and every game. Of course, different coaches have different methods of achieving this effort level, but the only important thing is the result. Vinny isn’t getting that out of his team — a team with more raw talent than most countries can offer — and that respect isn’t something that’s easy to get back once it’s gone.
Del Negro’s removal also makes sense purely from a basketball standpoint, too. With a career winning percentage of .431, he isn’t exactly lighting up the record books with his coaching abilities. The fact that his team with the aforementioned superstars is a paltry six games above .500 is borderline sad, and Del Negro’s offensive and defensive schemes have been criticized for being too simple.
Too simple? You’re armed with the second best point guard and most polarizing power forward in the league, and you’re being criticized for too simple? If anything, get scolded for being too ambitious with your game-plans, dreaming too big. But too simple? That’s like being ticketed for driving too slowly on an expressway in a Ferrari.
It’s almost a shame to see such talent go to such a waste. When you have such an incredible roster, why not bring in an equally incredible coach to guide them to a championship? Obviously, there isn’t a Phil Jackson on everyone’s doorstep begging to coach, but there are certainly candidates out there that could do a better job than Vinny Del Negro.
If the Clippers are smart, they’ll see this potential for improvement as well and will have a new coach in October.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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