[Note by Steve Perrin, 03/10/10 12:07 AM PST ] Sweet merciful crap, there's a lot going on. I sort of think the Larry Brown thing is significant in all of this. As our resident Bobcats expert, I wanted to promote citizen ClipCats FanPost to the Front Page. I don't necessarily agree with everything here, but this is coming from a Clippers and Bobcats fan who has been watching Larry Brown coach the Bobcats for almost two seasons now, so it's a very informed opinion. Most significant perhaps is the obvious but important distinction that we are almost 20 years removed from the first time Larry Brown coached the Clippers - we wouldn't be getting that guy, we'd be getting the current version of Larry Brown. Steve
[Note by Steve Perrin, 03/10/10 12:17 AM PST ] A quick clarification: Citizen ClipCat wrote this BEFORE the Clippers announced the ouster of MDsr. In order to get it to the top of the Front Page, I updated the time stamp, but it was posted several hours before anyone knew MDsr's fate (unless ClipCat has some super secret source he hasn't mentioned).
MadGlove posted a recent FanShot indicating Larry Brown has let the Clippers know he would be interested in returning as coach. Many citizens appear to enthusiasticly support this idea just as Bobcats fans did when he became coach here in Charlotte. I was one of those who initially believed Coach Brown was just what the Bobcats needed. Back when he coached the Clippers, I became a die-hard Clipper fan and believed he was pretty much the greatest basketball coach ever.
However, a lot has changed since then, and the Clippers wouldn’t be hiring the 90’s version of Larry Brown. While he has had a Hall of Fame career and is still very popular in Charlotte (Tar Heel roots help a lot), I do not agree that he would be a good coach for the Clippers based on his "accomplishments" during his two year tenure in Charlotte. More after the Jump
1) The System - Players and fans have been frustrated with Dunleavy's tight control over the Clipper offense. While LB in my opinion is a far superior as in-game coach to Dunleavy, he is no less controlling. Baron Davis is pretty much the antithesis of the type of PG that Larry Brown wants (efficient distributor, defense oriented, definitely not a chucker). I'm not at all sure that Baron and Brown would be able to successfully coexist.
2) Rotation – Brown has kept a very tight rotation relying heavily on his starters. This season Gerald Wallace leads the NBA with 42.0 MPG. Stephen Jackson plays 40.3; Boris Diaw logs 35.4 and Ray Felton plays 32.6. None of the centers (Chandler, Nazr, Ratliff and Diop) have been able to stay healthy or productive playing long minutes so they are mixed and matched as needed.
Dunleavy tried a similar strategy early last season with the Clippers, and injuries quickly followed. Charlotte hasn’t had major injury problems under Brown, but last season Charlotte lost 7 out of 8 games in April to miss the playoffs. Could have been coincidence, but the team looked very flat and tired at the end of the year. This year, signs of fatigue are already appearing, and another late season collapse would be tough for Brown to explain.
3) Reliance on veteran players – Brown has totally overhauled the roster to create the type of team he wanted, and that team is heavily stacked with veterans. Rufus on Fire (Bobcats blog) includes a line in almost every game review lamenting the lack of playing time for last year’s draft picks, Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown. Meanwhile, mediocre vets like Stephen Graham and Flip Murray have taken up too many of the limited bench minutes. If you’ve been frustrated with the amount of playing time guys like Tim Thomas, Cat Mobley and Ricky Davis have logged the last few years at the expense of developing prospects, Larry Brown is not the coach for you.
4) Personnel Decisions – The inner workings of the Bobcats front office can be difficult to comprehend with president/owner MJ, GM Rod Higgins and Brown all playing important roles. The exact roles each of them plays in decisions is not particularly well defined, but there are a couple consistent principles. Even before Jordan bought the team, he hired just about everyone, usually old friends, and he brought in Brown and Higgins. Meanwhile, Brown has major input into all personnel decisions and is the most influential voice as to who plays for the Bobcats.
In that role, Brown has consistently made moves that maximized short term value by bringing in vets with long, expensive contracts that fit his system (Boris Diaw, Vlad Radmanovic, Gana Diop, and Stephen Jackson) as well as shorter term rentals (Raja Bell, Juwan Howard, Tyson Chandler, Flip Murray, Stephen Graham, Theo Ratliff and Ty Thomas). Charlotte has traded away two future 1st round picks and its previous two 1st round selections prior to Brown’s arrival. They dumped Emeka Okafor for future salary cap flexibility and instead will pay Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed, Gana Diop and Alexis Ajinca a combined $27.6 million next year. As a result, Charlotte will be well over the salary cap before free agency begins this year. Signing both of their own primary free agents, Ray Felton and Ty Thomas, would almost certainly push them into luxury tax range.
5) Winning – Prior to Larry Brown, the Bobcats were horribly mismanaged by rookie Coach Sam Vincent (aka the Ham Biscuit). At one point, the players locked him out of the locker room at halftime, and Charlotte fans pretty much unanimously called for a new coach. Brown came in and won a whopping three more games than Vincent last year. This year, he’s coaxing another incremental improvement from the team, but the "success" he created is not sustainable. Charlotte will almost certainly decline next year due to its lack of cap space to re-sign even its own players and the lack of development from recent draft picks.
The Clippers are set up with all the tools for long term success, and they need a coach with some amount of patience who will work for more than just short term success. I would prefer a new coach next season who is totally committed to coaching the players he has and is not endlessly remolding the team into his image. I'm not sure who that coach should be, but I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be Larry Brown.