If you had asked anyone in Los Angeles in March if Vinny Del Negro‘s option would be picked up at the end of the season, you would have been met with sheer laughter. After the Clippers had endured a horrific 0-3 road trip, capped by an embarrassing loss at New Orleans, ESPN and many in Clippers Nation were reporting (praying) that “VDN” would be “relieved” of his coaching duties BEFORE APRIL.
But there is something mythical about Vinny Del Negro. Whenever the sharks attack him, he summons his Houdini powers and escapes the situation to survive another day. After that aforementioned disastrous road trip where his team looked like dead-men walking, the Clippers immediately won five straight games on a pivotal home stand in route to a 13-2 run that garnered national attention. Vinny went from “most likely to be fired” to a dark horse “coach of the year” candidate in a little over a month. But keep in mind who we are talking about-Vinny Del Negro. His teams are never consistent…
As soon as the ship was righted, everything crashed. The Clippers lost 3 of their last 4 games, ruining:
*Their opportunity to win the Pacific Title and the #3 seed
*The #4 seed and home court advantage
Such is the ebb-and-flow of Coach Del Negro. They win when everyone counts them out (Game 1 vs. Memphis; the 28-3 run to close the “Miracle in Memphis”) and they stumble when Clippers Nation starts to believe in them (blowing the 24-point lead to the Spurs in Game 3; enduring a 24-0 run put on them by the Spurs at home…ouch!).
Bottom-line: Vinny is a .500 coach (His overall record in Chicago: 82-82. In LA: 72-76). You are going to have some great moments with Vinny, that entice you want to “buy-in”. But there are too many moments (games) that leave one “wanting more” from his teams (Game 3 of the Spurs series for example). Vinny certainly can motivate and inspire, but his overall track record day-in-and-day-out leaves me feeling one of two ways:
1. If you want continuity, pick up the option to see where Del Negro can take the Clippers in 2013.
2. If the Clippers truly aspire for a championship, attempt to lure a Phil Jackson out of retirement. Or seek permission from the New Orleans Hornets and try to acquire Coach Monty Williams, whom your star point guard thrived under. If you are serious about a Title, you are “seriously” in the market for a more experience and talented coach.
Vinny has proven he can take the Clippers to the playoffs. The problem is he’s not the coach who can evaluate them to contender status. Just ask the Bulls.
(The Bulls have the NBA’s best record since Vinny Del Negro was fired two years ago)
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