If the end game is re-signing Chris Paul—as it unequivocally should be—then the Los Angeles Clippers would be wise to hire Byron Scott to fill the head-coaching vacancy opened up by Vinny Del Negro's departure.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was revealed that the Clips' polarizing head man would not have his contract renewed according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
I should clarify: Del Negro wasn't fired as coach. He was informed that he won't be offered a new contract to return. His deal has expired.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 21, 2013
Finding a replacement is now of the utmost importance. The NBA draft and free agency are both right around the corner, and it would probably be best to know who is running the show before making significant changes to the roster.
But judging by the size of the target list (according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and the Orange County Register's Dan Woike), it appears Donald Sterling and Gary Sacks aren't wasting any time with the crucial transition:
Obvious top candidates for Clippers job: Alvin Gentry, Byron Scott, Mike Malone,Brian Shaw, Lionel Hollins— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 21, 2013
Names I'm hearing: Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry, Mike Malone, Stan Van Gundy, Mike Budenholzer. I'm sure list is bigger.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 21, 2013
The first question of each interview needs to be a simple one: How will you help re-sign the best point guard in the league?
Scott will have the best answer to that question.
Who should the Clippers hire?
His overall resume isn't spectacular. Yes, he took the then-New Jersey Nets to two NBA Finals in his first three seasons as a head coach and won Coach of the Year with the New Orleans Hornets in 2008. However, he has a career record of 416-521 and recently went an abysmal 64-166 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It got him fired.
Nevertheless, the rapport he established with Paul during their time in New Orleans can't be overstated.
Scott is seen as a key figure in Paul's development as a superstar, and when the former was fired from the Hornets, the latter "wasn't happy with the decision."
Even after the two separated, they kept up their "father-son type of relationship" (via The Times Picayune's John Reid) and continued to communicate several times per week.
Apparently, Scott simply has a way with point guards. Even after an ugly tenure with the Cavs, Kyrie Irving—another point guard he has molded into a superstar—took the firing rather poorly, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
Kyrie says he's surprised & hurt by firing. "I feel like a piece of me is missing." #Cavs— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) April 18, 2013
Now look at this from the Clippers' point of view. If you're trying to hire someone who will best entice your star player to stay, aren't you going to go with the one man who has already developed an unmatched relationship with said star?
That should be obvious.
Scott may not have an overwhelming track record, but he's the candidate with the best chance of swaying the All-Star point guard back to Los Angeles.
And at this point, there is little else that matters.