Six hours ago, my car broke down on the side of the freeway (something about the oil pressure). A creepy tow-truck driver and a rental Dodge Caravan later, I got home, checked my phone and saw that Mike Dunleavy Sr. had stepped down as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
So what I’m trying to say is that my shitty afternoon quickly turned into a pleasant evening.
I’ve mentioned it in this space before, but a delusional optimism is simultaneously the best and worst thing a Clippers’ fan has going for them. On the one hand, delusion-fueled optimism allows us to think that we’re following a team that is actually capable of turning the proverbial corner and doing something franchise-altering that will lead to success. On the other hand, well, that’s probably never going to happen.
But now, thanks to Dunleavy’s removal, we have reason to be optimistic and – and this is where we could be hanging ourselves – it gives us reason to be patient. As in, “well, let’s just see how this season plays out. We just got rid of Dunleavy, let’s see how the team responds to the new scheme.” Double-edged swords are usually still sharp on both sides.
Dunleavy has been the Clippers’ head coach since 2003 and helped lead the team to its best-ever record in 2005-2006, when the team won 47 games. He is also the franchise leader in wins, with 215.
That said, this Clipper team had obviously tuned out Dunleavy, to the point where it was aggravating when the television cameras would NOT show the coach/player interactions during timeouts. Watching Baron and Chris Kaman watch the dancers on the court while Dunleavy drew up a play was particularly entertaining.
The fact that Dunleavy is staying on will as GM means the team should be active in the trade market in these next two weeks and possibly even in trying to attract a big-name free agent to the team when this summer’s free agent bonanza hits.
Baron Davis came to L.A. to be a star and Dunleavy’s coaching philosophy (and Baron’s physical shape last season) prevented him from doing that. Baron is well-liked in NBA circles and will likely be recruiting players to come join him and a young nucleus in L.A. next year. And will likely be lobbying for a coach who trusts their point guard to push the ball to come coach that young nucleus.
Assistant coach Kim Hughes being named the head coach is surprising, as I always imagined John Lucas would take over if Dunleavy left. And while I thought of it often, I never actually thought it would happen.
But tonight it did happen, and my optimism is renewed. For better and for worse.