The Clippers just announced that interim Coach Kim Hughes has been relieved of his coaching duties. Here's the link to the Press Release.
Obviously, this was not unexpected. Hughes didn't figure to be more than a placeholder from the minute he took the job. It would have taken an impressive close to the season in order for Hughes to get serious consideration as the head coach going forward, and 8 wins in 33 games made this a fait accompli.
It's not particularly fair to Hughes. The message from the organization when they made the move in February was that the season was over. That message was reinforced significantly a couple weeks later when Marcus Camby was sent to Portland. Hughes found himself with a roster featuring nine free agents, three brand new rotation players, and a major motivation problem. It goes without saying that part of Hughes' job was to try to motivate them anyway. But the deck was stacked against him from the start.
I like Hughes - a lot. He's by far the most honest coach I've ever dealt with, perhaps to his own detriment at times. He's also a pretty funny guy. And he knows his hoops. But when you dig into his results as a head coach for the Clippers, the 8-25 record is probably the least bad news. The team was dismal statistically, and non-competitive in most of those 25 losses. Their point differential under Hughes dropped them to third worst in the NBA on the season. For a guy that took the job talking about defense, his team was particularly bad on that side of the ball. Again, I don't think any of this is really Hughes' fault. But it's not NOT his fault.
I asked Kim once what he thought was better for getting a head coaching job in the NBA: a career assistant coach's resume, or a resume with an unsuccessful interim head coaching gig? In other words, would future employers give him credit for having been in the first chair, or discredit him for doing poorly there? He didn't want to answer that per se. He said he was happy for the experience he was getting, and thought he was learning a lot.
What does this say about the coaching search? Nothing really. In fact, if it's possible to say less than nothing, then the final paragraph of the press release probably succeeds:
A search for a new coach has already begun. There are no leading candidates. In order to maintain the ability to take advantage of the widest sample of available and quality coaches, there will be no stated completion timetable. When and if it is deemed appropriate, the Clippers’ Communications Department will issue official progress updates. Any speculative information concerning the search which appears in the news media or emanates in a form not directly attributed to the Los Angeles Clippers should not be considered valid or reliable.
That clears that up.
Good luck to Kim Hughes in his future endeavors.