So yeah, I went to the press conference today. In fact, right at the beginning of the Prime Ticket coverage, there's a pretty clear shot of my bald spot at the bottom of the screen. Yup, that's me. Not my best side.
What can I tell you about it? Not much. You can see for yourself on the video. It's a lot of happy talk. At least one thing seems clear: the Clippers are going to "play the right way."
The reasons Olshey gave for choosing VDN were all the ones we've already talked about: (1) he is willing to play youngsters (three starters under 25 in Chicago, six players under 22 in LA); (2) he had his team playing hard at the end of the season. Make no mistake - those things are real and they're significant. Whatever flaws he may have as a tactician, his guys were playing hard in April and that counts for something. Olshey's pretty smooth at selling whatever idea he wants to get across, and that was the big message today - we want to develop a winning culture, and we think Vinny Del Negro can help us do that.
The thing I'm going to be watching closely is the coaching staff that he builds. The first meeting of the Summer League roster is Thursday night - the first practice is Friday morning. Everyone was noncommittal on time frames, but the simple fact is that the summer league team needs a bench coach, and it ain't gonna be VDN. They already have a person in mind for the summer league job, and presumably he'll be in LA tomorrow, and presumably he'll be a part of the coaching staff next season. Last season's Clipper assistants are all being considered for the new staff as well.
There's also a broader question concerning the assistant coaches. We've discussed how VDN had never coached before he took the Chicago job, how he might not be the strongest Xs and Os guy, and how a strong assistant can help compensate for some of those shortcomings. VDN's first season in Chicago, he had Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff as assistants. The second season he had Bickerstaff. Harris and Bickerstaff each have 14 years of head coaching experience themselves.
Does VDN need an old hand on the bench with him? Or at any rate, did someone in Chicago think he did? I asked Olshey if the Clippers would be looking to add a similarly experienced person on VDN's LA staff, and without saying 'no' he more or less said 'no'. He talked about the youth on the team, and how it important it was to have a coaching staff that could relate to the players. He referenced Del Negro's playing days as not being too far in the past and implied that that was an advantage as well. I took it all to mean, no Bickerstaff (which is not a bad thing, I've never been a big fan of Bernie Bickerstaff). But in the back of your mind, because, you know, it's the Clippers, you kind of assume they'd never be willing to pay enough to lure a former head coach to the an assistant's spot (though of course they did it with John Lucas).
At any rate, the coaching staff will be a key subplot to keep tabs of over the next few weeks.
Whoever they hire, I'm sure they're going to "coach the right way."