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First Impressions - Clippers Head Coach Kim Hughes

I have to say, I like this guy.

After his first practice as the Clippers interim head coach, Kim Hughes spoke with the media this morning.  Dena was there with her camera, so keep an eye on the Clippers web site or youtube channel to get the unfiltered story.

Hughes has to walk a bit of a tight rope here.  In answering questions about how things will be different, the implication of saying "I'll do things this way" is always, at least implicitly "Dunleavy did things another way, and that way was wrong."  And of course this guy is still the general manager, so it would be unwise to throw him under the bus.

Hughes navigated that minefield impressively.  I asked him to compare and contrast his style versus MDsr's style, and he didn't shy away from it.  Frankly, he said all the things that the vast majority of the Citizens of Clips Nation wanted to here.  He used very positive language to refer to Dunleavy - called him the most intelligent basketball mind he's ever worked with, called him cerebral - but said that he'd be different.  He wants to run more, get more easy scores in transition, call fewer plays, let Baron Davis run the show - everything he said made sense, and was music to Baron's ears.

As a former NBA center and Chris Kaman's mentor for seven years, I was interested to hear about Hughes' big man philosophy.  I was a little surprised by the answer.  For one thing, you wouldn't expect a former NBA center to necessarily be advocating the running game, not to mention that Kaman has said before that he prefers to play half court.  On the other hand, Hughes said some things that were old school NBA big man.  He doesn't want Kaman settling for jump shots as much as he does sometimes.  If he misses a few, he wants Chris to get into the post rather than continuing to play face up basketball.  (My dad would definitely concur - he hates seven-footers taking jump shots, even if they go it.  He wants them near the basket where they can rebound misses.)

Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and even Mike Dunleavy also took turns in front of the mikes (a lot of sore shoulders tomorrow among the reporters holding digital recorders in front of tall people).  I'll have more thoughts on those sessions a little later.  The videos will probably be up soon as well. 

For now, let's just say that everyone seems to be on the same page, whether it's spin or not.  No one came out and said that the players had actually tuned Dunleavy out, there were many references to "a new voice".  Baron described Highes' style as more "free-flowing", a chioce of phrase that I found particularly telling given his comments last week.  Kaman described him as "my guy" since he's been his friend and mentor his entire NBA career. 

As for Dunleavy, there was a particular moment of clarity when he knew that it was time to make a change.  On the plane trip home from Atlanta, rather than watching game film, he watched "The Hangover."  And that's when he knew that he needed to move on.