Decision Week in ClipperLand for Clippers, Vinny
At the end of this week, June 1st, the Clippers front office faces the decision of whether or not to pick up the team option on coach Vinny Del Negro. He led a squad built on the fly into the second round of the playoffs in a condensed regular season schedule with limited practice time. He helped dig the team out of a lull, which saw them drop from 19-9 to 26-21. They absorbed the contact and followed through, finishing the regular season 40-26.
The 'decision' apparently lies exclusively within the hands of notoriously stingy owner, Donald Sterling, who is a fan of VDN and saving money. However, for basketball reasons as well, keeping Del Negro with no long-term commitment beyond next season is not a bad move.
First of all, it will allow Sterling to feel the financial comfort to sign free agents while his check to the head coach is comparatively minimal. Also, given the fact he had limited to no practice time to find a level of familiarity with his roster with the shortened season, he will be given the chance to prove himself with an entire pre-season as well as a full 82-game schedule next year. Vinny has always been a very good motivator and a solid overall coach, however, his inability to counter opposing coaches with in-game adjustments begins his pitfall.
He understands that coaching is like playing in a way because there is always room for improvement. As with his team as well. Free throw shooting and big men who can shoot beyond the paint are necessary to a team trying to achieve greatness. The downfalls of the Clippers cannot be placed solely upon the shoulders of Del Negro even though media tends to attribute blame to coaching when they see two stars on the roster.
The Clippers have some moves to make this offseason as they possess five free agents as well as a coaching decision to make this week. One must assume that Del Negro will be pacing the sidelines holding his cluster of papers that he seems to stare at when he seems dumbfounded and outclassed. He will be given the opportunity to go to training camp, preseason and the postseason once again, however, improvement is necessary if he wants to grow into the coach this team requires to reach that upper echelon.
Vinny will be back coaching the Clippers for the 2012-'13 season. However, he will be there with no strings attached. If he fails to bring this team to the next level of development, he will soon be cut loose. On the flip side, he has all the wiggle room to make this a long-term commitment if he can grow with the team.