Although Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro received a vote of confidence from Team Owner Donald Sterling and has been assured he will finish the season on the bench for the club earlier this week; unless the Clippers go deeper than expected in the Playoffs in the coming weeks, he will most likely be handed his walking papers once his team is eliminated from contention. Before Chauncey Billups was lost for the season due to injury; the team had enough talent that it basically ran itself, however Del Negro has shown that he is ill-equipped to use his players correctly; which has led to the slide the team has been on recently.
The reason the Clippers Team Owner publicly endorsed his bench boss this week was due to published reports that Del Negro had lost the confidence and respect of his players. Sterling mused that he did not know how rumors like that get started. They get started because a player, assistant coach or another member of the team’s staff grumbles something; or because the team’s lack of paying attention is so obvious in key situations, that a toddler could figure it out. A credible reporter is not about to print a story like that without some semblance of truth. If they did their credibility would not remain intact for long.
Assuming that this edition of the Clippers will not shock the Association and end up representing the Western Conference in this June’s NBA Finals, the team will be looking for a new bench boss for next season. If Donald Sterling is sincere in his statements about wanting to keep stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for a lifetime, the choice the club makes to take over the bench for the squad has to make sense for both the short and long-term. My proposal for Los Angeles is for them to hire veteran coach Larry Brown as their head coach and current Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw as his lead assistant.
This move addresses both the immediate future by giving the Clippers the best teaching coach in the NBA, as well as setting up a line of succession in a specified time-period for Shaw to assume the reins. Everybody knows what the rules of the game are coming into the situation; hence no paranoia or insecurity issues for any involved. Brown is a proven winner at every stop he has made except for a brief excerpt with the New York Knicks, who wants to get back into the game again and Shaw gets a chance for the players to get to know and respect him before he takes over.
The 71-year-old Brown’s name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for the coaching vacancy at SMU according to a report from the “Dallas News” on Wednesday. Brown told the paper that he had not been contacted by the school, but he made his wish to get back into basketball quite clear. He told the paper “I just want to be a resource in some way, or coach or be involved; whether it’s as an assistant, or head coach, or if they want me to mentor somebody.”
Brown would be a huge asset to help with the maturation of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, while giving Chris Paul his best coach since the New Orleans Hornets fired Byron Scott. That can only help to improve the player who is arguably the best point guard playing in the Association. Veteran Billups is already a fan from when he and Brown helped the Pistons win the NBA Finals.
Shaw is a bright young assistant who did not appreciate the way he parted from the Lakers at the conclusion of last season. The one time heir-apparent to Phil Jackson learned that the team had hired Mike Brown as their new head coach on TV, a move he did not appreciate. He is already a known and respected figure in Los Angeles, what better way to stick it to his former team than to lead the city into an era when Los Angeles becomes a Clippers town?
Sterling is not known for running his team lavishly, however if he really wants to get the club to the level that he will be able to have CP-3 and Griffin want to stay with the franchise, the hiring of a Brown-Shaw tandem might be the best road leading to that destination.