I knew it was trouble, but I didn't know it would get this bad, this quickly.
After playing only 17 minutes last night in New York (less playing time than seven other Clippers including 10-day-contractor Doug Christie) and watching the final seven minutes from the bench, Corey Maggette sat down with the LA beat reporters in the locker room and trashed his coach. From Art Thompson's article in the OCR:
This is not good.
I'm pretty sure that playing the Sterling card was not the way to go. I thought Sterling's move a mere two weeks ago was a good one. If nothing else, he got MDsr, Elgin and Corey to talk about it when it seemed that they weren't talking to each other. And for Sterling to publicly convey his support was a terrific vote of confidence - for Corey. But MDsr is still the coach, and by all indications a pretty ornery cuss. In the accounts of the Sterling meeting, he seemed to accept what the owner was saying. But if he doesn't think Corey deserves to play, then he's not going to change his mind based on the sentiments of the owner - what coach would? In fact, he'll probably be more inclined to demonstrate his independence, which is why Sterling's decision was a gamble. Well, he may have lost his bet.
By invoking Sterling in his comments to the press, Corey paints MDsr into a corner. It's as if ClipperMax were to say to the ClipperWidow, "But dad would let me." Bad idea. You've got to know who's really in charge, and ClipperSteve is not really in charge.
The distribution of minutes from the Knicks game is all the more bizarre and ominous considering Dunleavy's comments regarding Christie, as reported by Jason Reid of the LAT in today's Clippers Report:
"It wasn't conducive to getting him in the flow right away. He's had a chance to see some stuff, and he's had two legitimate practices, so you could see us using him a little bit."
These comments were before the Knicks game. If that's 'using him a little bit', what the hell is going to happen when Christie 'gets in the flow'?
Of course, this isn't about Christie. If the Clippers have found someone on waivers whose going to help the team, that's great news. And I don't want to become the 'crazy Maggette guy' who can't see anything other than Corey's minutes. And I wish Corey had handled last night better than he did (though I'm not surprised by what happened). But there's one thing that I can't get past:
The 13th leading scorer in the NBA in 2004-2005, at the age of 27 and in perfect physical condition, played 17 minutes in a loss to the Knicks.
How does that make sense?
It's not even as if someone else was playing so well that they had to be on the floor. Thomas had a great game, but his minutes came at power forward. On the wing Ross, Mobley and Christie combined to score 2 points on 1 for 15 shooting. WTF? What's going to happen to Corey's minutes if Christie gets in the flow and someone, I dunno, makes a shot?
This is not good.
I am constantly amazed at the seemingly nonexistent communication between players and coaches. Far from unique to Maggette and MDsr, it is mind-boggling to me that anyone would conduct a professional relationship this way, yet it happens all the time. MDsr knew what he was doing - he knew Corey would be upset. Why not take him aside after the game and say something to him? It doesn't have to be "I'm sorry" - no one is expecting that. It could be "I pulled you because I thought Christie was playing better defense" or even "I pulled you because I hate you and you suck" but don't you have to say something? Just because you ignore it doesn't mean it's not there.