- Citizen Ric Caric put up a comment yesterday with an intelligent argument for hanging on to Vinny Del Negro as Clipper head coach. I think it's an excellent, measured place to start a balanced argument about whether VDN should continue in his current role. I asked him to put it up as a fanpost and now I'm promoting it to the front page. - J. Raffo 5/23/12 10:00am.
I don’t watch television except while traveling and therefore see almost no Clippers games. So I’m not saying that the arguments here should override the evaluation of Steve Perrin and others on Vinnie Del Negro. But there is an argument that can be made for keeping him and I thought I would put it out there.
RECORD. The Clips’ 60.6 winning % represented a 17-18 game improvement over last season and they moved up from 13th to 5th in the Western Conference, passing long-time rivals Portland, Utah, Denver, and Phoenix in the process. Given the newness of the roster, lack of training camp, and lack of practice time, it can be said at the very least that VDN’s over-all approach to the team had success.
(More after the jump)...
SUPERSTAR RELATIONS. Unlike a lot of coaches, VDN listened to his superstar Chris Paul and established a good rapport with the ultra-competitive point guard. Paul appears to be impressed with VDN and to have bought into VDN’s way of doing things. VDN’s apparent success with Chris Paul was not only an important factor in this year’s progress but will benefit the Clips organization for years to come if Paul re-signs.
STYLE POINTS. Under VDN, the Clips have established a chippy, feisty team persona that reflects VDN’s personal style and probably helped to unify the team. Given the big player turnover, the newness of the team, and the long mid-season slump, the Clips seem to have stayed feisty with minimal (if any) back-biting or dissension. The Game 7 win over Memphis with three starters playing with injuries was especially impressive and VDN has to get at least a fair amount of credit for this.
FAST AND SUSTAINED START. The Clips got off to a great start despite having three new starters and kept it going despite Chris Paul missing games early. The Nuggets, Blazers, and Jazz (I think) all got off to strong starts as well but all started struggling while the Clippers were climbing up to second in the conference. Unlike other coaches, VDN was able to keep the Clips on a positive track until Chauncey Billups’ injury.
FAST FINISH. The Clips were also one of the hottest teams in the league at the end of the year. VDN’s Chicago teams also finished strong but the strong finish of the Clippers also occurred while Vinnie was under a lot of pressure. Extra credit to VDN there.
COMPARISON TO BETTER-KNOWN COACHES. VDN doesn’t get much credit compared to other coaches, but Vinnie got his team to respond much better to adversity than Nate McMillan in Portland, Flip Saunders in Washington, Rick Carlisle in Dallas, and Mike D’antoni in NY. Likewise, Rick Adelman didn’t exactly cover himself with glory after Ricky Rubio’s injury and Stan Van Gundy’s lack of self-discipline may end up setting the Orlando franchise back 10 years. VDN outcoached Lionel Hollins during the Memphis series as well. All of these coaches have much better reps, but VDN did a better job than any of them under the unique pressures of the 2011-2012 season.
FINAL ARGUMENT. Vinnie Del Negro did a lot of positive things with the Clippers this year, and, perhaps more important, avoided the rigidity, politicking, and back-biting that did in so many other NBA coaches. Altogether, VDN is a plus for the organization and should stay in the job as long as he’s remains a positive.
Like I said at the beginning, I’m not really sold on this myself but thought it would be good to get the counter-argument to firing VDN out there..