NBA AM: Is It Time For Vinny Del Negro To Go?
Vinny Is In Trouble: It cannot possibly surprise you to hear the Clippers’ coach Vinny Del Negro may be on the hot seat. As Bill Ingram hit on yesterday the word coming from Clipper land is that the Clipper players have grown tired of Vinny and may be tuning him out.
The chief complaint is an erratic and unpredictable rotation and substitution pattern, but more importantly a lack of faith in his game planning.
This really is not news; in fact if you re-wind to 2010 in Chicago, similar commentary was coming out of the Bulls locker room.
The good news for the Clippers is that they have two qualified coaches on their staff already – the first is Marc Iavaroni who coached the Grizzlies for two seasons. The second is Dean Demopoulos a long time assistant that has been mentioned as a head coaching candidate for several years.
The Clippers deny there is a rift between Del Negro and his team, however it is obvious that things are going south quickly and its seems like it’s only a matter of time before a change is made.
The question is how deep of a hole will the team be in once a decision is made?
The Clippers have lost six of their last ten games and nine of the 15 games they have played in March.
If the Playoffs started today the Clippers would be the sixth seed and face the LA Lakers in the first round.
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The Jim Buss PR Machine Rolls On: Yesterday Lakers’ executive Jim Buss held a chat with fans at Lakers.com. He addressed a number of issues and questions. Nothing too serious or heavy.
That was followed up by an interview from Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant, who was on the Mason & Ireland Show Thursday tossing his support behind his boss.
“We have a good relationship,” Bryant explained. “People misunderstand that relationship. We have a good time. We’ve had dinner together and things like that. He’s a great guy and he wants to do the right thing and he wants to help us win a championship. The biggest thing, which was the same with his father, who he has learned from, is that he’s not going to make rushed decisions. He’s going to be patient and he’s going to take his time.”
“The one thing I will say about him and about the Lakers’ organization is that it’s one of those franchises that always seems to land on its feet. Always seems to make the right choices. Always seems to make the right decisions, even the tough ones.”
The Lakers are three games back from the San Antonio Spurs, however Bryant doesn’t understand why everyone continues to doubt his team.
“We are a championship-caliber team,” Bryant said. “I’ve never understood the talk about us not being a contender. I’ve never understood it from the start of the season until now. You have myself, you have Andrew (Bynum) and you have Pau. Who has three players like that on one roster? And then you have Metta (World Peace) and you have (Matt) Barnes.
“So I hear all this talk and all these conversations and here we are two games out of the second seed in the Western Conference despite our struggles on the road and with the new coaching staff and the new system and new personnel. I always believed we were contenders but we just had to be quiet about it.”
The Lakers have 19 games remaining on their schedule including 11 home games. The Lakers have won 86.3% of their home stands this season. Of the remaining 19 games, the Lakers will see 10 teams with a record above .500 and 18 of the 19 will be versus Western Conference teams.
No One Is Buying It: Kentucky stand out Anthony Davis was asked this week about what the future held for him as almost everyone on the planet believes he’s the top overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and leaving Kentucky.
Davis, who is is a little sheepish with the media, said he hasn’t made any decisions yet.
“I really haven’t decided yet,” Davis said. “I’m just still worried about the season right now. The season’s not over. You can’t really worry about the future right now. So I’m trying to win a national championship for my team, and then when the time comes, whether it be this year or next year or whatever year, that’s when I’m going to have to sit down with my family and my coaches and decide what I’m going to do.”
Let’s break the anticipation… he’s the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft for any teams within reach of him in the draft lottery – he’s coming out barring injury.
Even Kentucky stand out Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who was telling people for months that he was coming back to Lexington, has made it known he’s coming to the NBA in June.
It’s nice to hear a kid say he’s not thinking beyond the moment, but of everyone in the draft discussion Anthony Davis’ decision is the easiest of the bunch to make.
Still Watching: Yesterday we hit on a couple of guys that are on the draft radar that were worth watching in the Sweet Sixteen, and two of them showed up big yesterday:
Bradley Beal was 8-10 from the field, 3-5 from three, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 21 points. Very Impressive. His Florida team advances and faces Louisville tomorrow at 4:30pm.
Draymond Green was 5-16 from the field, 1-7 from three (yuck), 16 rebounds, 6 turnovers and 13 points. Michigan State was eliminated last night, so its NBA draft time for Draymond.
The Sweet Sixteen rounds out tonight as Baylor plays Xavier at 7:15pm, North Carolina plays Ohio at 7:47pm, Indiana plays Kentucky at 9:45pm and NC State rounds out the night versus Kansas at 10:17pm.
In Related: This might amount to picking a fight, but so be it… Yesterday some of the Indiana faithful took exception to my suggestion that Hoosier star Cody Zeller was finished at Indiana. Suggesting that “everyone around the program knows Cody is coming back”
And that could very well be true. If Zeller does opt for another year at Indiana his draft stock will go through the roof and he’ll move into top 3 or 4 discussion for 2013.
But here is the problem… no one knows what the NBA and the Players Association are going to do with the draft rules.
Because of the compressed nature of how the current labor deal was reached in December, both sides agreed to leave the draft as it is for this year and re-address the draft at a later date.
Now they very well could leave it as it is going forward, or they could radically retool. You just don’t know and college players won’t either before the April 10th date the NCAA has established to maintain eligibility.
There are some on the Players’ side that want a baseball-esque type system. Where a player has the option to come to the NBA straight out of high school, but if he opts for college he has to stay for a minimum number of years. Baseball requires three years if you opt for college.
The NBA is pushing for a “two and through” system that would require players to be at least 2 years removed from high school and 20 years old. That’s basically adding a year to the existing system.
Now on the surface neither rule scenario really affects Cody directly, but it does cloud the future and more importantly what the talent landscape will look like.
As things stand today, Cody Zeller is easily a lottery pick. If he stays at Indiana for another year he likely slides into the top 5 in a class that’s likely going to feature Nerlens Noel, a 6’11 high school phenom, Shabazz Muhammad, a stud shooting guard from Las Vegas, and New Zealand big man Steven Adams.
If the NBA allows straight from High School again, the landscape changes. If they enact a two years rule the landscape changes.
Cody may very well opt to stay at Indiana, and honestly that might move him to the top of the draft class in 2013.
But there are a lot of unknowns because of how the NBA labor deal came together, and until that’s resolved there is a ‘bird in the hand’ situation here. Given how well Cody has played this year the temptation of the NBA is going to be hard to pass especially with center starved teams like Cleveland, Milwaukee and Portland holding picks in the range where Cody would likely be drafted.
Every smart college player says he is staying for one more year, but that doesn’t mean once that player hears from the agents and the advisers that he doesn’t change his mind.
Cody’s Hoosiers face the top seeded Wildcats tonight at 9:45pm. It’s absolutely worth the watch.
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