In any situation with any NBA franchise, there are positives and negatives or pros and cons to each endeavor. In the case of Vinny Del Negro and whether he should have a contract extension with the Los Angeles Clippers, I see a ton of cons and one pro.
Here are some things I’ve said before about the Los Angeles Clippers heading into the 2012-13 NBA season:
- Chris Paul is a top 5 player in the league
- Blake Griffin is a top 20 player in the league
- The Clippers have the deepest team in the league
- LA will finish as the third seed in the Western Conference
- The Clippers have the talent to beat the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in a seven-game series
If you didn’t notice, there is nothing about Del Negro and his contract ending after the 2012-13 season.
Why should he be mentioned?
What has he really done to help make the Clippers the successful team they currently are? He didn’t sign contracts with Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford. He didn’t trade for Chris Paul before last season started. In all honesty, it seemed like he had little to do with what happened on the court either.
I’ve read countless articles mentioning how Del Negro led the Clippers to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the Clips moved to Los Angeles.
“My goal coming here was to help change the environment, change the culture and change the direction of the organization,” Del Negro said to the Los Angeles Times, then posted on RealGM.com.
Correction, Paul led the Clippers to the second round and changed the losing culture.
Los Angeles wasn’t going anywhere until the deal with the New Orleans Hornets was made. Paul came in and changed the team around. He gave it direction with his passing and perimeter defense. He gave them hope because they finally had someone who could lead the team with attitude, advice and great game play. He gave the fans a reason to believe the Clippers could actually win games against the tough teams.
Del Negro’s game plan didn’t put people in the seats. Del Negro’s soft spoken words of advice didn’t cause his team to gel.
I don’t think Del Negro did much of anything except collect a pay check for being the face of the sideline.
The only pro to keeping him on the team is his contract. I doubt he’s a top 15 paid coach in the league and keeping him on contract allows the Clippers to put their money to use in other areas.
On the other hand, I’d rather the franchise worry about what every team should worry about — winning games.
If the Clippers had a coach who was truly a coach instead of a figure head — who won games because of a system, a game plan or some sort of recipe for success — the Clippers could have finished with a record better than 42-26 last season and would have competed against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs.
Instead, the Clippers begin the season in mediocrity and looked like a first round out more than half-way through the 2012-13 campaign. A late season surge earned them the fifth seed — one game behind the tied Memphis Grizzlies and the Lakers for fourth or third. They got past the Grizzlies in a seven-game series in the first round but couldn’t beat the Spurs in a single game in the semifinals.
Half the reason the Clippers didn’t compete was because Paul was slowed with injuries, which proves my point: the team starts and ends with him. Del Negro couldn’t design a defensive game plan to stop the Spurs seventh offensive option, let alone Tony Parker.
Del Negro doesn’t impact his team the way a coach should.
I see more of a reason to let his contract end after this season than to extend it. Please don’t use the “Who will be good enough to replace him?” sob story because there are plenty of guys who could come in and get the job done. Who wouldn’t want to come to the Clippers with the type of roster the team has?
Jerry Sloan probably wouldn’t mind.
Del Negro is not the man to lead the Clippers. With him on the sideline, Los Angeles is only going as far as the talent on the court takes it, instead of where a powerful, proven combination of a great coach and a highly talented roster could take the Clippers. The roster is there but the coach isn’t.
Ask the Thunder’s Scott Brooks and Kevin Durant about the duo I’m speaking of.