Friday, February 5, 2010

Mike Dunleavy - Bad Luck, Mate

(Photo from SportsReport)

News - Mike Dunleavy resigns as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, assistant coach Kim Hughes takes over

Coaches don’t win basketball games. Players win basketball games. It’s up to the coach to command respect and get all those players who win the basketball games on the same page. On a losing team, such as the Clippers, there are only so many times a coach can say “we need to get more rebounds” or “we need to play harder defense” or “we need to pass to Chris Kaman more.” At a certain point, a team just stops responding to a coach and the team forms a habit of losing. A habit of losing is a dangerous habit because then a team doesn’t have anything to live up to, is expected to lose, and players just can’t wait to leave the loser team to play somewhere else (Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Andre Miller, Bobby Simmons, Vladamir Radmanovic all signed elsewhere - respectively Miami, Philadelphia, Golden State, Denver, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers ALL AFTER LOSING SEASONS).

And so Dunleavy had heard the “Fire Dunleavy” chants at home games and has been berated all over the internet. But at the same time, he hasn’t had all his pieces and he has said in the past, “let me lose with my whole team.” That’s the least Donald Sterling could do, right? Well, that’s what he did. Last year, Eric Gordon, Camby and Kaman were often injured. This year, Blake Griffin hasn’t played a single game and Eric Gordon started off hurt as well. They’ve already surpassed their win total from last season, but there’s still something missing. A new coach is the best move for the Clippers.

The Clippers need a fresh mindset or new schemes and someone who doesn’t hold the weight of all those Clipper losses on his shoulders. They need someone who will command respect and can really shape these young players into a team that can contend for the playoffs (at least). Sterling can’t let the young raw talents of Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin and the prime years of Chris Kaman and Baron Davis go to waste due to this habit of losing (barring any trades that may happen).

The Clippers this seasons has the most upside in recent memory (2006 playoff team was lead by an aged Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley and an almost aged Elton Brand).

But if this 2009-2010 team gets complacent with losing and then are expected to lose, the Clippers core (Kaman, Davis, Griffin, Gordon) will wait until their contract expires and sign somewhere else and the vicious cycle will continue: Clippers will win 15-25 games, get a lottery pick, not build a winning team and a winning ATTITUDE around him, and they won’t make the playoffs. Five years later, said lottery pick will leave and the Clippers will win 15-25 games, get a lottery pick…

It looks as if there won’t be a new coach hiring this season and the team will roll with Kim Hughes, one of Dunleavy’s assistants, for the rest of the season and start fresh next season with a hopefully, fully recovered Blake Griffin, and a healthy Eric Gordon, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, solid role players like Al Thornton and Deandre Jordan, a possible top 10 draft pick in the 2010 draft, and a WHOLE LOT OF MONEY when free agents Marcus Camby ($7.6 million), Rasual Butler ($3.9 million), Mark Madsen ($2.8 million), Craig Smith and Ricky Davis ($2.5 million each), and Brian Skinner ($1.3 million) come off the books that can make the Clippers big players in next year's 2010 free agent class.

With this hopefully healthy team, the Clippers will hire a new head coach and the consensus seems to be that it will be one of Byron Scott, Avery Johnson, or Jeff Van Gundy. Take note that there is bad blood between Byron Scott and Baron Davis from their years together on the Hornets.

All three instill winning attitudes and command respect from their players and get everyone on the same page. They have the resumes of making the finals and consistently making the playoffs. Young players will benefit from being coached by them, veterans will respect and respond to them.

Based on my observations this season: Baron Davis takes plays off and takes bad shots, Marcus Camby hardly ever cuts to the basket without the ball for an easy layup and takes those long baseline jumpers or from two feet further than the free throw line. When the ball goes into the post with Chris Kaman, four other players stand around and no one cuts to the basket (See video, however, Rasual Butler has started cutting to the freethrow line to get an open jumper from Kaman).

Note these aren’t knocks on the players abilities, Baron Davis is a good player and a good shooter, Camby can knock down the long jumper, Kaman can score in the post. But the team could get off much easier shots if people moved without the basketball (something I KNOW Blake Griffin will do).If a coach can come in and get these guys motivated and expect wins, this team will win. You hear it every damn year, but next year is the year for the Clippers. They've got the pieces, they just need to get a coach who will put those pieces to play together on the court.

1 comment:

KneeJerkNBA said...

I heard a rumor that Sterling is talking to Isiah Thomas about the coach/GM position.

Personally, I've always thought Dunleavy was a shitty coach. Seems like his days in Portland were the only time anyone listened to him. He was awful for the Lakers, even worse for the Clips. And injuries shouldn't be an excuse for a team not playing hard. Look at the Blazers. Good riddance. Blake Griffin deserves a better mentor.