You have the best point guard in the NBA, Chris Paul. You have one of the best and most explosive power forwards in the NBA, Blake Griffin. You have a talented, athletic center that is known for his defense, DeAndre Jordan. You have veterans who either have won NBA championships or have played quality postseason minutes, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill.
Why can’t you win in the postseason? It has to come down on the guy leading the troops and his name is Vinny Del Negro.
As harsh as it is, and was seeing how the Clippers fired him this past week, it is the right move for the Clippers moving forward.
With the talent they have on their roster, not making it to at least the conference finals two years in a row is lackluster to say the least.
But especially this season, with the door wide open in front of them. Oklahoma City is coming off a NBA Finals trip and it’s difficult to make it to back-to-back finals. Also, Russell Westbrook went down with a playoff-ending injury against the Houston Rockets in the first round.
Several months ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to win the Western Conference but they struggled throughout the season and also didn’t have Kobe Bryant because of an injury.
Memphis is a good team but they traded Rudy Gay during the season, arguably making them worse off.
So the dinner was set on the table for the Clippers, arguably the most talented team in the Western Conference. All the pieces were in place yet they blew a 2-0 lead in the opening round of the playoffs to the Grizzlies.
The only plausible answer to the downfall is Del Negro. When he joined the Clippers after coaching Chicago, there was no pressure whatsoever to succeed at that position.
The Clippers finished the 2009-10 season with a 29-53 record. There was no pressure for Del Negro to come in with inferior talent. None at all.
After watching Del Negro lead the Bulls to two straight 41-41 records, Los Angeles thought that maybe he was an up-and-coming coach due to the fact that he led the Bulls to two consecutive playoff appearances.
However, the East was so bad that just a .500 record would get you into the postseason so that statistic was very misleading.
So he comes in with virtually no pressure. But then it all changes.
You start to see the evolution of Blake Griffin. You start to see other young guys step to the plate. You go out and get Chris Paul. You go out and get some veterans to make a real push towards a championship.
All of the sudden, Del Negro is in over his head. In what seemed like an instant, the Clippers went from the laughing stock of the league to a potential powerhouse in the Western Conference.
This was supposed to be the season that Los Angeles took that next step. The door was wide open in the Western Conference. They won their division. They played unbelievable at times during the season. They finished the regular season winning seven straight games. They started out with a 2-0 lead in the opening round against Memphis.
But then what happened? They choked. Del Negro’s team choked for one reason or another. But the biggest reason is the fact that he wasn’t ready for the gig.
This team was created to make postseason runs. Del Negro was brought in to do exactly what he did but he’s not a championship-worthy coach at this point of his career.
His postseason downfalls early in his career tell you that he isn’t ready to lead a team to a championship. Right now, that’s the direction Los Angeles is going.
Del Negro will find another job because he has the potential of becoming a great coach in the league, but it just wasn’t meant to be for the Clippers.
They need somebody who has a ring.