All the statistics point to the Los Angeles Clippers being one of the best teams in the NBA, but you still get the feeling that something is missing. What the Clippers need now is a championship-caliber head coach to help them put it all together.
No disrespect to current Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro intended but Del Negro is what he is; a good transitional coach for a young team. Del Negro did a decent job of coaching a young Chicago Bulls team into a competitive unit and has done much of the same with the Clippers. But with a team like the Clippers led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the verge of building something special the Clippers should take a page out of the Bulls book and replace Del Negro with an upgrade after this season comes to an end.
Many of the Clippers victories this season have come because of their collective talent in spite of mediocre coaching. Del Negro has been out coached on numerous occasions, the latest being in Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After the Clippers roared back from a 19-point deficit Del Negro switched from a zone defense that was working to man-to-man, enabling the Thunder to exploit a pick and roll switch to get Lamar Odom isolated for an open dagger jumper from Russell Westbrook. This is just one example of a coaching lapse by the Clippers head coach.
This season is the last of Del Negro’s contract, so the Clippers can replace him with an upgrade without having to abruptly fire him and eat any of his contract. There are great options available; with pick-and-roll genius Jerry Sloan and the outspoken Stan Van Gundy looking like the best candidates to take the Clippers to the next level.
My money would be on Van Gundy as he may come cheaper than Sloan and would relish the opportunity to work with arguably the best point guard in the NBA and an athlete like Griffin. They have the talent and they have the youth; all the Clippers are missing is a great head coach.