The Los Angeles Clippers are holding off on making any coaching changes just yet, but if they know what's good for them, they'll dismiss Vinny Del Negro and pursue a better option: Stan Van Gundy.
After beefing up the roster in the 2012 offseason and winning their first division title in franchise history, the Clips underachieved in the first round and were bounced by the Memphis Grizzlies.
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, general manager Gary Sacks is going to "let the dust settle and then evaluate everything."
Del Negro has been frequently criticized for his player usage, substitutions and inability to get the team to play fluidly. ESPN basketball analyst Bill Simmons noted that the coach's shakiness didn't shine through until the playoffs:
Thought "too many guys" + "VDN" would kill the Clips all season, but it didn't happen until April/May. And then? It happened. And then some.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) May 4, 2013
Despite an upgraded roster and improvements from DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin, Los Angeles failed to earn a top-three seed or advance in the postseason.
Clippers fans hoped Chris Paul could lead the team to the NBA Finals, but Lionel Hollins clearly out-coached Del Negro as the Grizzlies won in six. LA jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, but once Hollins made adjustments, Vinny couldn't counter-asjust and the Clips lost four straight.
Los Angeles' post-up defense was terrible, its offense was stagnant and inconsistent, and as a result, Del Negro is on the hot seat.
There are a few free agent coaches who would get more out of this squad, and the best fit among them might be Stan Van Gundy.
In Van Gundy's eight years of NBA head-coaching experience, he reached the conference semifinals five times and the conference finals three times, including a trip to the NBA Finals. Del Negro, on the other hand, has advanced past the first round just once.
Van Gundy knows how to utilize bigs in conjunction with perimeter scorers, and he would work wonders in developing DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
He's not really a specialist type of coach; his teams have historically excelled on both ends of the floor.
Most importantly, he's capable of generating defensive results. Van Gundy's units were in the top 10 in points allowed in six of his eight seasons, and they were in the upper half in points allowed in every single season.
He would bring a different atmosphere and approach than Del Negro. While Vinny sometimes admitted to just coaching by feel and not having specific reasons for decisions, Van Gundy seems to have a particular focus and purpose for everything he does.
There's no reason to think Van Gundy wouldn't operate seamlessly with team leaders Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
His tough-love methods would bring out the best in Griffin, catapulting him higher on the NBA food chain. Meanwhile, he would orchestrate optimal placement for shooters Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler and Willie Green and also maximize their defensive cohesion.
Vinny Del Negro has enjoyed some regular-season success the last couple years, but ultimately, he's barely an above-average coach.
Van Gundy, on the other hand, is a great coach who would fit in well with the Los Angeles Clippers and thrive with their big-market resources.
It's time to pull the trigger, LA.
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