The Los Angeles Clippers lost their third game in a row last night, falling to the Hornets in Chris Paul’s first game in the Big Easy since he was traded last December. They’ve now lost six of their last ten and haven’t looked great in many of their recent victories. Wednesday night, Grantland.com Editor & Chief (and Clippers season ticket holder) Bill Simmons tweeted he heard that head coach Vinny Del Negro was on super thin ice and that a blowout loss to the Thunder wouldn’t help anyone. That happened and ESPN’s Chris Broussard wrote that Del Negro had in fact lost the team.
“Most of the players, according to sources, believe it’s time for a change. They cite the uncertainty of Del Negro’s rotation as a major problem. With the front office adding several players to the roster throughout this shortened season — Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Bobby Simmons and Nick Young — plus Eric Bledsoe’s return from injury in February, players’ minutes have fluctuated from game to game.
For instance, in one four-game stretch this month, Bledsoe played 6 minutes one game, 16 the next, then 4 minutes, then 17. And while starting at shooting guard, Randy Foye has played 35 minutes on some nights and 14 or 16 on others. This week, he lost his starting job to Young and did not play a minute in Tuesday’s loss to Indiana.”
As Crossover’s own John Karalis pointed out in this morning’s Starting 5, the Clipper’s problems aren’t entirely Del Negro’s fault, but he’s also not doing himself any favors.
The Clippers are still missing pieces on the floor… the glue guys… to will do dirty work, take (and make) the un-glorious mid-range shots, and get gritty on the defensive end. Del Negro, meanwhile, hasn’t done a damn thing to make the current talent work better together. There’s no wrinkle to throw at teams to get a few easy buckets. There’s no adjustment to create a temporary fix.
I’ve never been a big Vinny Del Negro fan. I’ve also joked all season that Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul were running the team anyways. As Bill Simmons pointed out in subsequent tweets, the good news for Del Negro is it would be really tough to find a replacement, even an interim guy for the last five weeks of the season and the playoffs. The Clippers have to make a run at the playoffs. They have no incentive to miss it. Their own draft pick is going to the Boston Celtics no matter what and they haven’t signed Chris Paul to an extension yet. The Clipper organization will want to prove to CP3, not to mention their growing fan base, that they can at least make they playoffs in year one of the Chris Paul era. Still, if I’m Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Jeff Van Gundy and any other high profiled coaching prospect, I’m getting my resume ready for this summer.