I used to have a real job. I quit one day to stay home with the kids for awhile, and found out I was really good at sitting around the house. And the ClipperWidow takes good care of me. And I have a lot of time to opine about the Clippers (and 70s sitcoms), which is nice. But I used to have a real job.
Way back at the beginning of my career, I attended some internal corporate leadership training. I was a young go getter, moving into team leader and manager roles, and I guess they thought they better tell me how to act.
They had these catch phrases for various leadership concepts. You've heard a lot of them. K-I-S-S - Keep it simple, stupid. Vote with your feet. The fish still stinks the next day. But my favorite one by far, and then one I referenced over and over in my career (and my personal life) was this: get all the liars in the same room.
If person A says one thing, and person B says something else - then talk to them together! It's so simple. And bad things happen when you don't do it.
I'm always shocked and dismayed when someone says something to a reporter about someone else that they apparently haven't said directly to that person. Hell, even if you have said it directly, why would you say it to a reporter?
Last season, at the height of the MDsr-Maggette fiasco, I questioned MDsr's interpersonal skills.
From the Maggette-festo:
Reading TJ Simers column today, I feel an overwhelming need to get the liars in the room. Of course for a columnist, he wants exactly the opposite. "When I told him what that guy said, he said this about the other guy. When I told the other guy what I said about the first guy, he said this about the second guy." etc. etc. It reminds me of something that happened in ClipperZoe's class the other day. Isabella told Dana that Lina thought that her backpack was ugly, and Dana said that she knows that Lina took her favorite pencil, the one with the purple eraser. And then all hell broke loose - trust me, you do NOT want to cross Lina.
Funny thing is, the players are being the mature ones in this case. In Jonathan Abrams' report, all of the quotes from players - every one of them - are circumspect, even-handed and reasonable. Not eloquent, granted. But on the whole very mature. The owner and coach and GM could learn something from them.
Not that I disagreed with much that MDsr said to Simers. He just didn't really need to say it. (And he comes across as incredibly arrogant. Telling Donald T. Sterling that firing him '...would be the biggest mistake you ever made' is a pretty bold statement. Keith Closs was on his payroll for four years after all.)
As for the details, big deal. Maggette for Jason Terry. Beno Udrih. Yawn. I understand MDsr's point if indeed this is the way it went down. He recommended trades, he got vetoed (by the GM, by the bean counters, by the owner, whatever) and now he's being criticized for not winning enough. It sucks, especially when DTS said something along the lines of 'when players get hurt, you get different players.' Well, he tried, he was told no, and now he's being criticized. I get it. I'd be pissed too.
But it misses the larger point if MDsr is going to try to tell us that adding Jason Terry and Beno Udrih (while subtracting Corey Maggette) from the current team would make any difference. It wouldn't. Is Beno Udrih any better than Brevin Knight? More to the point, did anyone have any reason prior to this season that Beno Udrih was any better than Brevin Knight (or Dan Dickau for that matter)? Dickau was signed by the Clippers on Oct. 3. Udrih wasn't on the waiver wire until Oct. 29. Put yourself in Baylor or Sterling or Roeser's shoes. "Let me get this straight - you drafted a point guard (Jared Jordan). You signed a free agent point guard (Brevin Knight). You waived the guy you drafted so that you'd have a roster spot to sign another point guard who you think is going to be waived and who you think is better than the guy you drafted (Dan Dickau). You signed that guy to a guaranteed contract. And now you want to sign ANOTHER POINT GUARD who you think is better than the guy you signed who was better than the guy you drafted?!?!? This guy who just got cut loose by the best talent evaluators in the league and waived by the worst team in the league?" It's really no wonder that someone pulled the plug on that deal. And I repeat, it would not have made a bit of difference.
(Of course MDsr can claim he's a genius now that Udrih is playing so well for the Kings. But his track record is not without blemishes, so the genius claim only goes so far. It's a little cheap to talk about the guys who could have made a difference after the fact anyway. Hey, the Clippers could have signed Jamario Moon. If anyone had actually heard of Jamario Moon.)
It does explain some recent MDsr comments regarding the point guard situation. Joe Stevens of the Press Telegram/Daily News wrote a piece recently where MDsr singled out point guard as the biggest problem (unfortunately I can't find the link). Really? Point guard is the big problem? Brevin Knight has a PER of 12.25. Dan Dickau's is 11.64. Meanwhile Cat Mobley's PER is 12.3 and Tim Thomas' is 12.02. PER isn't the be all end all measurement of course, but if anything it's going to short change a low volume shooter like Brevin Knight, who is among the league leaders in assist to turnover ratio and is a solid defender. And it's hard to blame Dickau, when, you know, he hasn't played lately and the team still loses. So point guard certainly looks no worse than shooting guard or power forward on this team. If anything, I'd say it's less of a problem. And, by the way, this is MDsr's Blanket at shooting guard.
The fact that he tried to acquire two other point guards (that's five this summer, not counting Steve Francis) but was thwarted goes a long way to explaining his recent comments.
As of yesterday, these guys needed to kiss and make up. As of today, it's urgent. Finger pointing is childish and counter-productive. If DTS wants to fire MDsr, then do it. Don't talk about it, do it. This is silly. And they don't have to be best friends, but they do have to talk to each other, and not through TJ Simers.
Maybe the most fascinating aspect of this is the implicit power struggle between MDsr and Elgin Baylor. As I mentioned yesterday, Elgin Baylor has been the Clippers GM since 1986. 22 seasons. No other GM has been in his current position for more than 12 seasons. Over two thirds of the teams in the league have changed their GM within the last four seasons. Elgin Baylor had already been the Clippers GM for 14 seasons when Sports Illustrated wrote a cover story calling them the worst franchise in pro sports in April 2000. And he kept his job for five more seasons after that before the Clippers had a winning record.
The fact that Elgin Baylor has had this job for 22 seasons is a joke.
(By the way, doesn't it seem as if the era of the 'all star player as savvy GM' has ended? Sure, Joe Dumars is doing well. I maintain that Chris Mullin is a train wreck who got lucky - working with another former all star in Larry Bird. But Jerry West ain't walkin' through that door, and Kevin McHale, Elgin Baylor and Isiah Thomas are unmitigated disasters. Meanwhile, RC Buford and Kevin Pritchard and Bryan Colangelo and Sam Presti may not be on the list of the 50 Greatest NBA players of all time, but they seem to be doing pretty well for their teams. Update [2008-1-23 19:3:21 by ClipperSteve]: I swear I wrote this before reading pretty much the same sentiment on TrueHoop, even though Henry wrote it yesterday. I was pretty busy yesterday, what with the Clippers in turmoil and all.)
Sterling implied in his comments on Monday that he's finally starting to get it. If he really wants to make changes, he should do it. Fire MDsr. Fire Elgin Baylor. Fire both of them. I say again, if you want to do it, don't talk about it, do it. Of course, getting rid of MDsr would be expensive, not to mention that he's got plenty of evidence to suggest that it might not be the right decision (3 out of 5 seasons under MDsr showed improvement, and this season is a do over). By comparison, Baylor's track record is much worse by any standard - two winning teams, four trips to the playoffs, and a single trip out of the first round in 22 seasons. I know where I would start.