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TJ Simers takes a look at Castle Clipper

TJ Simers, the LA Times resident provocateur takes a look at Castle Clipper.


T.J. Simers makes me nuts. The LA Times has dumped a lot of good writers the last few years but they continue to hang on to the crabby, crappy guy who likes to play the provocateur but seldom provides any real insight. His columns are sloppy, often mean-spirited, and pretend to be funny but never are. I'm sure he'd say, "If you don't like what I write, don't read it," and he'd be right about that. But the LA Times is still one of the only sources of Clipper's info that actually tries. And Simers is one of the only writers who's actually paying attention to the Clips. And, even though he seems to know absolutely nothing about basketball, he's become almost impossible to ignore. And this particular column (published a few days ago, just after the Sacramento game) deserves to be read... because it seems T.J. Simers has taken a liking to Vinny Del Negro:

But now only the playoffs remain before Clippers' management begins messing with success and chooses not to rehire Vinny Del Negro as coach...

There are already names being floated around the league on who might replace Del Negro, shockingly absurd when you consider Del Negro has a winning record as Clippers' coach....

Del Negro's name should probably be mentioned in consideration for coach of the year honors.

Well, that all seems fair, right? A lot of fans question Del Negro's abilities despite an unparalleled season by the Clips. But then Simers really starts to unload:

He hired, and in some cases negotiated the contracts, of almost everyone who is sitting on the Clippers' potent bench. And then he kept them happy all season long....

...there's a feeling within the Clippers that the players and the organization could do better with someone else... The front office turned sour on Del Negro earlier this season when he chatted with Celtics' boss Danny Ainge about a deal to acquire Kevin Garnett. They felt it wasn't his place to do so.

Hard feelings remain.

Del Negro also isn't as sold on keeping DeAndre Jordan as the front office is, and so there are grounds for continued conflict. If I knew the name of the team's wallflower general manager, I would tell you.

I'll tell you, his name is Gary Sacks. And I'm not sure he's a wallflower at all. We all know the Clippers used a triangle approach to the GM position when Neal Olshey left last summer. Team President Andy Roeser, Sacks, and Del Negro worked together to fill out the roster... at least that's what we were told. According to Simers though it was Del Negro who made the decisions and did the work.

Is that true? I'm assuming Simers source is Del Negro himself, since clearly he hasn't spoken with Sacks. He only illuminates this question with this next cryptic (and un-sourced) bit:

Andy Roeser remains Donald Sterling's top aide, but he's lost much of his influence now that Sterling's son-in-law, Eric Miller, has joined the team in training as possibly Sterling's heir apparent.

Really? Is there palace intrigue in Castle Clipper? Does Andy Roeser no longer have the ear of the king. Is his power waning? Is Gary Sacks power tied to Roeser? Does Simers know anything?

Del Negro began this season as a lame duck, and remains one. The organization has been waiting for some kind of sign from Chris Paul on whom he would like to see coaching the team.

Thus, they don't know Paul as well as they should. He will never be party to such a decision, thereby changing his reputation from good guy to prima donna athlete wanting special treatment...

The Clippers had a chance to extend Del Negro's contract earlier this season with the team running off 17-straight wins. But Del Negro has long-range plans, and the Clippers weren't ready to make such a commitment.

Now they will have to pay the going rate for a coach they hired initially on the cheap. A coach who has proved capable of taking a team to the playoffs four out of five years...

Really? Do the Clippers now have to "overpay" Del Negro to keep him? How much does Del Negro make? How much qualifies as "overpaying". The current theory is that NBA coaches are not really garnering the astronomical salaries they used to get. Would a rehired Del Negro make more than 3 or 4 million a year?

Simers article is interesting because of the light he shines on potential intrigue in the Clipper front office. But it's a grainy, gray light. While he legitimately questions the wisdom of firing a coach who's guided the Clips to 56 wins and kept a deep team happy, he takes shots at others who he doesn't seem to know or understand.

And there's no criticism of Del Negro... his woeful offensive game-planning, his inability or unwillingness to help DeAndre Jordan (and Blake Griffin) improve, his questionable ability to make in-game adjustments...

Simers doesn't seem to even recognize or realize that the Clippers lost a GM at a critical time last summer, and that their front office system is not a traditional one? Don't the Clippers deserve better than this? Isn't there someone, a writer with the knowledge and skill to analyze the Clippers coaching and front office situation in a balanced approach?