Vinny Del Negro Will Reportedly Interview for Nuggets' Head Coaching Position
Add another notable name to the Denver Nuggets' growing list of candidates for their head coaching vacancy.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, former Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is expected to interview for the position this weekend. It's unknown whether Del Negro will interview Saturday or Sunday for the position, nor was it reported how serious of a candidate he is.
Former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and current Indiana Pacers coach Brian Shaw have previously interviewed for the vacancy. Hollins and Shaw, both of whom interviewed earlier this week, are considered the clubhouse leaders for the position.
That being said, Del Negro's surprising candidacy could mean the search is more wide open than originally thought. Del Negro spent the past three seasons with the Clippers before not being offered a contract extension after the team's first-round playoff ouster by Hollins' Grizzlies.
Though he has often been derided for lacking in offensive ingenuity, success has followed Del Negro wherever he's been. The 46-year-old former NBA guard has made the postseason in four of his five seasons as a head coach, including each of the past two with Los Angeles.
The Clippers won a franchise record 56 games this past season, which included another franchise record with a 17-game winning streak.
Behind Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and a solid stable of supporting characters, Los Angeles became one of the league's most efficient offenses during the regular season.
The Clippers' 107.7 points per 100 possessions ranked fourth in the league during the 82-game campaign, and they were considered a sleeping giant in the postseason—especially once the Oklahoma City Thunder lost Russell Westbrook to injury.
However, as has been the case throughout his career, criticisms mounted on Del Negro during the playoffs. The team's vaunted offense was suffocated by Memphis' complicated defensive plan, cratering over the final four games of the series after starting with a 2-0 cushion.
They also struggled with defensive rotations and cohesion in the defensive game plan as well, with frustrations mounting that Del Negro was unable to push this talented roster over the hump.
With Paul, the Clippers' best player in franchise history, hitting free agency, the team moved on in hopes of finding a coach with a more impressive pedigree.
Such was the case with Del Negro's previous stop in Chicago. The Bulls made the playoffs in each of his two seasons before being fired, compiling a 41-41 record in each campaign. Though integral toward building the team's core and helping develop Derrick Rose, Chicago took off after Del Negro was replaced with Tom Thibodeau, a coach with a firm set of rules on both ends of the floor.
Who should the Nuggets hire as their next coach?
Should Del Negro land the Denver position, he'll be taking over for one of the more respected names in basketball in George Karl.
The 62-year-old Karl faced much of a similar situation to Del Negro, in that he was fired after a historically strong campaign. Karl was let go despite being named the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year and leading the Nuggets to a 57-25 regular-season record.
With Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri also leaving Denver for a post with the Toronto Raptors, the Nuggets are a team desperately in need of finding new stability. It's unclear whether Del Negro can provide that steady hand Tim Connelly, Ujiri's replacement, is looking for. But it's also notable that the team is expanding what looked to be a two-man competition earlier this week.
Neither Del Negro nor the Nuggets have commented on the coach's candidacy.
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