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Friday, March 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am  |  64 responses

Clippers Players Say They’re ‘Still Behind’ Coach Vinny Del Negro


by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

Things have gone from bad to worse in Clipper-Land of late, with the team having lost 12 of their last 19 (including an ugly 6-10 mark since the All-Star break), and now there’s growing chatter that head coach Vinny Del Negro’s job is in trouble.

This is what happens in the NBA whenever a team starts to lose in discouraging fashion — especially a high-profile one. Just ask Mike D’Antoni.

For what it’s worth, some of Del Negro’s players came to his defense last night, following a terrible loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

From the LA Times:

On the night the locals came to show respect for what Chris Paul has done for the Hornets and the city of New Orleans, the Clippers spent much of their energy trying to dispel rumors that there is tension inside the locker room because Coach Vinny Del Negro has lost the team. After a humiliating 97-90 loss to the Hornets on Thursday night, the players all claimed they supported Del Negro despite the team’s losing all three games on this back-to-back-to-back trip that has produced more questions than answers. “We’re still behind him,” Blake Griffin said.

“Coaches come and go in this league,” Kenyon Martin said. “We all know players make this league. But until we go out and play, we can’t always point the finger at the coach. That ain’t always the issue.” Del Negro acknowledged that he’s as frustrated as the players. He said he’s not putting “credence” into “sources” who have his job on the line or say the players aren’t following him anymore.

In addition to the perceived locker room issues, Vinny Del Negro’s play-calling, game management and the use of the considerable talent on his roster are coming under increased scrutiny.

The LA Clippers have slid into the sixth seed in the Western Conference, and whether or not they make the Playoffs is up in the air at the moment.

Until they find a way to turn this thing around, and soon, Vinny Del Negro’s seat will only get hotter.

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  • Paul H

    Del Negro does need to go, but the Clips really have fundamental flaws In that roster which really need addressed before next season. The holes In Blakes game are beginning to have the worlds biggest flashlight shone on them, If anything he has regressed from last season. The indecision Is painful to watch sometimes. For any Nba superstars with impending free agency In the next few years, watch how Chris Paul handled his situation In New Orleans. A man who exhibited textbook professionalism, tried not to make a fuss and kept playing hard.

  • Moj

    Coaching issues!? They lost to the HORNETS! A damned ninth grader should have been able to man the sidelines and still have the Clippers pick up that win! Matter of fact, forget a coach- with the talent the Clippers have they should have been able to just play straight up and get the W. I get the whole coaching thing, and the fact of the matter is that it’ll be no different in Clippers land: the coach will be scapegoated and will be the first one to get the sharp end of the axe if the team continues to underperform. But if you lose to the Hornets, then that’s on your players. Period.

    And on a side note, somebody get Blake some FT help ASAP.

  • http://twitter.com/niyosimba niyosimba

    D’Antoni to the rescue, please ! lol

  • http://www.slamonline.com spit hot fiyah

    still behind him, ready to kick him to the curve

    McMillan is the dude imo

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    D’Antoni to coach CP3, Blake, and DeAndre? That sounds so crazy that it’ll probably work!

  • bull22

    i remember when us bull fans were going through our frustrations with del negro, (never thought he should have coached chicago to begin with) but had no choice but to give him a chance. Greg poppovich said once “be patient,
    he will get it done”. i know clipper fans are beginning to tire of him.

  • lisa

    Blake still has a lot to work on, so does DeAndre. Nothing to panic about though, they still have time to get it together. This team doesn’t want to face OKC, SA, or LA in the 1st round. Why does everyone think D’Antoni would be a good fit? I think McMillan should get the job.

  • RunNGun

    This is what all players say before the coach gets the AXE! Just ask Nate, the Pringles man, or VDN… oh wait!

  • riggs

    d’antoni would be a horrible fit. McMillan is the best coach for the job, have antoni as an assistant

  • abaci

    The clippers are annoying. where did all that CP3 MVP talk go? i know they lost chauncey billups thats why im not asking where all the clippers to western finals talk go?

  • Heals

    Isn’t that the best place to kick someone to the curb from…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    their offense is painful to watch and their defense is horrible. coaching issues.

  • AD

    those players need to realize that they need to play defense and cp3 needs to talk to VDN and get some more of sets… Period.

  • lisa

    Blame both the coach and players. Is it VDN fault that Blake hasn’t evolved as a player? You can’t be the 2nd option and only contribute by throwing down lobs. He has worked on his jump shot, but that’s not enough if you want to win a chip. They are to worried about making the top 10 on SC. I have always said Chauncey is the x-factor… He is the only guy besides Chris and Blake who can contribute on a regular basis. They have never been a good defensive team.. Since they have had trouble scoring their defense looks terrible. I think it’s to late to change coaches now but McMillan should get the job next season.

  • Ash

    The coach is not the issue. Jeez its a lockout season with new players and an Chauncey is out for the season. Give him another year..media always start rumours. Clippers are finally in playoffs

  • Ash

    Also Blake Griffin needs to put in more time in his offensive game.

  • http://Slamonline.com Kap

    There goes all the talk about Clippers being best team in LA. The team clearly has lots of holes and they are finally being exposed. When Paul goes 3/12 and Griffin is 5/15 against Indiana how is it the coaches fault? This team is just overrated and finally coming down to Earth. You have two of the most athletic guys but both are limited offensively and the SG spot is a hole and the defense sucks.

  • http://www.fullc0urtpress.com KHOLIDAY

    Clippers need to figure out their identity. One minute they are run and gun, the next they are a halfcourt pick and roll team, and after that they are featuring Griffin on the post. Coach needs to pick a style of play and stick to it. You have a top 5 PG and Thoroughbreds. Defend and get out on the break!

  • crooklyn

    Slam dunks and alley oops are only gonna get you so far in this league.
    Like a lot of teams, they need work to do. Bring in D’antoni

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The Lakers have been the best team in LA, the Chris Paul trade didn’t change that. He doesn’t shore up a defense, and Vinny Del Negro sure doesn’t either. They either need to become completely offensively dominant, or they won’t have any claim to the best in Staples.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The Clippers have gone 9 games without scoring 100 points. With that much talent? How is this not on VDN?

  • lisa

    @nbk… I don’t think they can score effectively enough to be more of a predominantly offensive team. Especially when Chris doesn’t get many plays called for him, Blake hasn’t improved on the low block, and Chauncey is out for the season. I just don’t see how that can happen. They have missed a lot of shots that they would normally make but, there area still a lot of gaps to be filled. As a Laker fan I’m enjoying this.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Uhm they shouldn’t rely on Blake Griffin on the low block. They shouldn’t play at such a slow pace. They shouldn’t shoot so many long 2′s and 3′s if they are going to play at such a slow pace. They should be up tempo, running pick and rolls and spacing the court. Things that would be implemented by a good coach. Plus VDN isn’t motivating his guys, which is what he was originally hired for.

  • AQWORD

    He he. I wish i could bring back the last Shawn Kemp article to point out the bawbagz who said Griffin will be a much better player. Dunks come easy, game doesnt. It takes years of hard work. Feel me Beehachiz ?! The clips need a defensive presence, with the team they have all the other stuff will fall into place.

  • lisa

    You can’t do none of that if you don’t force the other team in to taking bad shots/keeping them from running their offense, playing defense. The pick n roll won’t work because teams are forcing Blake to make the jump shot, which he gas tone in a while. They look dead out there… they still have time to turn it around, but i hope they don’t.

  • lisa

    Wow, so many typos.. sorry. I meant to say, they dunk forcing Blake to take the jump shot instead of letting him run to the basket for the dunk.

  • lisa

    *area

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The pick and roll would work fine, there are 2 people involved in a pick and roll. If Blakes guy plays too far off him on the pick then Chris Paul will have open looks.
    .And you don’t have to force the other team into anything to play uptempo, you just have to speed up the pace. Like Phoenix has been doing without playing good defense for 7 years now.
    .And them looking dead out there, is part of the motivational issue with Vinny Del Negro.

  • Justin G.

    To say this is completely on the coach is ignorant. Del Negro can do all the play calling, raise the tempo, change it up all he wants but in the end it’s on the players to go out and execute. Even the players say that. Blake Griffin is making those that thought he was the best PF in the game look pretty stupid right now. He can’t shoot FTs, he doesn’t have a decent jump shot, many moves in the post…I know it’s his second season and there’s obviously still time for it all to come together but it isnt’ happening right now. I read somewhere also that Chris Paul doesn’t like to play an uptempo game, which is surprising to me considering how much easier his job would be and how many assists he could rack up with the athleticism around him finishing his passes. Chauncey getting hurt really affected this team more than most thought it would I think too. I also find it funny how a lot of you posters are calling for them to be an offensively dominant team, bring in D’Antoni, etc. when the same people were saying his offense doesn’t win championships. Fact of the matter is, this team is victim of it’s own hype because they were obviously overrated to begin with and it’s showing now

  • http://www.yahoo.com berkamore

    I thought that Del Negro was an Ok coach until Tibs replaced him as Bulls coach and I went, ok, I understand the difference.

    No Vinny is not a bad coach per se, but he is not championship caliber yet. And the Clippers are beginning to have expectations with all the talent they acquired.

    They should get a guy like Larry Brown. Pain in the neck but great coach.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    That is the same thing Knick players (at least publicly) said about Antoni and look at what happened.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Vinny Del Negro implements the system that features Blake Griffin in isolation more then in pick and rolls. If Chris Paul prefers a slower pace, which I have only seen from Allen, and then repeated by you, then that’s fine, the Clippers would need to implement a system that best caters to the strength of their players at a slower pace, which right now is not happening at all. As I pointed out too AD yesterday, they shoot the 5th most 3′s in the league, they are 16th in %, and they play at the 28th slowest pace in the league. That is a system issue. You can’t expect to get the most out of your players (or expect them to “execute”) consistently if you are consistently putting them in spots and situations on the court where they aren’t comfortable.
    .
    Is VDN the only reason they have issues? not at all.
    .
    Is VDN doing anything to make up for his players deficiencies? not at all.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Vinny Del Negro was hired to motivate a bad team. He was not hired to help a good team win. Having VDN coach the Clippers and expecting them to be an elite team is like throwing a donkey in a thorough bread race and expecting it to compete.

  • http://www.yahoo.com berkamore

    @ NBK,

    You are absolutely right.

    VDN may have been the right coach for the the team they Clippers USED to have. But he is no longer a fit now. You hear about people growing into a job. Well sometimes, a job can become too big for somebody. Sad but true.

  • http://cechicagorilla@aol.com yada

    look the clippers roster is still good enough to beat alot of the teams they have been losing to. i remember in chicago CDN was a players coach. he’s like 1 of the guys. he’s cool BUT HE GIVES NO DIRECTION!! i used to holler at the screen VINNY WTF ARE WE OUT HERE DOING? i dont even know if we were running plays. its just NO foundation!!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbOy7wGVHP0 Allenp

    That note on Paul came from True Hoop, which based it on the fact that New ORleans played at one of the slowest paces in the League for years, and that Paul preferred to orchestrate all of the action. It’s one of the ways he keeps his turnovers low.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    How long ago did you read that Allen? I don’t not believe you, this is just the first i’m hearing that it’s Paul’s preference

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Well, he better get out of his comfort zone. CP in a half court offense was cool when he had a healthy DWest because of West’s ability to post up and hit that mid-range shot consistently. The clipps have no one like West in the half court because their starting frontcourt consists of bad jumpshooting bigs. DJ and BG excel in the open court and rolling to the rim off PnR actions.

  • Heals

    My bad spithot, missed that on my BB this morning.

  • Justin G.

    nbk, I wasn’t saying Del Negro isn’t at fault also. Clearly he is. On the other hand, I also don’t think less than a season with a fairly new team, no training camp plus the schedule and no practice time is enough to see whether a coach is failing with his team. Game to game adjustments are one thing but with no real time to work on them makes it difficult to do. It’s not hard to see why the teams that have been together for awhile (Miami notwithstanding since they just have superior talent) are the ones that are atop the standings

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Man he is clearly failing with the Clippers. If you as an NBA coach don’t possess the ability to recognize the strengths of your players, and you can’t motivate them to play hard for you, then you are failing. Training camp, first year together, limited practice time, or not. Del Negro will not be coaching the Clippers next season. Not if they want to keep Chris Paul.

  • Justin G.

    I haven’t been privvy to many games the past couple weeks for various reasons, so I’ll ask since I assume you have been watching them. Are they not playing hard? Or are they just not making shots? Or is it that teams have seen them a bunch of times and are taking away their tendencies. As AllenP has pointed out, their offense is pretty simplistic right now so when you’ve seen them once or twice it shouldn’t be hard to figure out ways to take them out of their comfort zone. And btw, I don’t believe it should be on a coach to motivate someone to work hard or play hard. That’s on the players. These guys are paid way too much just to think they can walk out there and go through the motions. Same with shooting percentages, free throw percentages, etc. Yeah you can design plays to get guys the ball where they’re comfortable but the players need to be in the gym working on this stuff on their own too. Too many times players are acting like someone owes them something when it should be on them to make it happen (see Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin whining for superstar treatment from the refs)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    They haven’t really been playing hard since about the beginning of March. They are 4-8 in their last 12. With losses to New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Phoenix, Boston, Golden State, New Jersey, & Minnesota. They beat, Detroit, Houston, San Antonio, and Atlanta during that stretch. The game against San Antonio was solid, they played very well. Other then that, they have looked like a lottery team this whole month.
    .
    My thing about them not playing hard is, they aren’t playing hard for a reason, they were playing hard at the beginning of the year, but their offense has become stagnant, guys don’t look happy in the situations they are put in. It’s not like they aren’t motivated, it’s like they are unhappy. That to me is on the coach. If he can’t make his players happy, or atleast confident on the court then he is doing something wrong. And if he’s doing that wrong, and not putting players in positions on the court where they are comfortable then I personally see a direct correlation.
    .
    So I don’t disagree that the coach shouldn’t have to motivate his players, I do think it is partially on the coach. And he should atleast make his players enjoy the system they are playin in, or he just simply isn’t the right coach for the team.

  • Magic fan

    Trade Cook = clippers losing streak

  • RKJ92

    MCMILLANNNN PLZZZZ Lollll

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    This is exactly what the Heat looked like at times last year.
    The coach isn’t doing a good job of helping the players succeed and they are getting frustrated because they can see the talent.
    Next year, I expect a much more uptempo Clippers attack, just like the Heat. When you have two of the fastest bigs in the League and one of the best passers, walking the ball up is counterproductive.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    @LakeShow:
    If you see this post;
    I saw the picture you posted.
    That is too funny. lol

  • tavoris

    Del Negro isn’t a good coach.

    We all knew it when he was stunting Rose’s development with those predictable plays.

    The Clippers have a lot of talent, but they only really play 3.5 players who could be considered scorers. None of those players are Durant or Kobe or Wade or Lebron, so they are going to struggle to score most nights.

    The biggest issue is their D. They can’t stop ANYBODY. I can’t remember a bad defensive team making (or winning) the Finals.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Shout out to Philo.

  • Michelle

    Almost every game they start great but their concentration just fades away :S Against the Hornets they played great inside-out offense in the first quarter after that it all went downhill with players just chucking away..

  • Justin G.

    Yes you can see talent but talent doesn’t necessarily come together in a cohesive unit in less than a year, much less even a couple years, especially if you don’t have a coach like Doc Rivers, Popovich, Sloan, Jackson, etc. Yes, I know the Celtics did but those were all veteran guys more than willing to put their stats to the side for the good of the team. The Clippers are a young team looking for theirs with a substandard coach. Personally I would love to see what a Nate McMillan could do although this team with D’Antoni at the helm could be fun to watch offensively. Unfortunately, the’d still be defensively challenged

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Who cares, this team is going nowhere, when your power forward, has no post game and cannot not shoot. CP3 like I have said plenty of times, will end up wasting his prime years in Clip land. CP3 messed up thinking, just because a guy can dunk, he can play basketball. Clips just suck and thats it. Overrated, all you guys who jumped on the bandwagon, off it now. BOOK IT!!

  • Far

    Every article I read here, NBK leaves the best comments.

    Who’s your team man?

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I don’t really have a team I’m from Phoenix though so if I absolutely had to claim someone I would just say the Suns. But I would honestly just rather watch the best teams play and not care who wins

  • http://WWW.BENNY.COM BIG MONEY

    PHIL JACKSON

  • Golakeshow

    A clipper town! Give me a break!

  • http://www.google.com/news BETCATS

    The Clippers might have the most talented roster in the NBA. It is clearly the coaching.

  • Justin G.

    If they had the most talented roster in the NBA they’d be winning more. Last year so many people were saying how Spoelstra was such a bad coach yet they made the Finals. Again, I’m not saying VDN is a good coach or anything like that but it’s the players also. At the moment their weaknesses are being exposed and it’s showing how overrated they are. Like I’ve said before, teams very rarely gel right away in the first year or even two. Give it another year of maturation as players and when they do get their new coach

  • DS44

    No one said “Clippers Curse”

  • Bt

    ^^^ most talented roster??? Your kidding. Aside from cp3 their roster is pretty average. Blake can only dunk and has no interest in playing any kind of D, caron butler is aging quicker than expected, mo Williams is another poor defender who’s offense is inconsistent (and he’s only gonna be wrose in the playoffs as he usually chokes come stiff time), deandre is still a work in progress while the bench isn’t exactly deep or consistent. Billups was their second best player (yes better than Blake) and a lot more Important than people realized. Blake doesn’t make his teammates better at all and can’t carry a team anywhere close to the playoffs (they were 32-50 last year).

  • ab40

    they should get behind a shooting machine and work on their jump shot. These guys suck at shooting and it’s sad.

  • http://www.newyorkshockexchange.com Shock Exchange

    Yeah, when you stab someone it’s best to do it from behind.

  • http://www.tradecheapjerseys.com/ Dallas Prevost

    Sometimes I just don’t understand how some coaches get jobs over and over again in the league?

    You would think someone in the front offices would realize that they’ve been terrible before and will continue that way.

    D’Antoni is an offensive guy but will never win a championship.
    Del Negro flat out sucks.
    Flip Saunders
    Randy Wittman

    Isn’t the goal to win a championship? Why not go after guys that either have before, or unproven guys with something new to offer, rather than guys who have been there done that.

  • mugiwara

    why does griffin no longer shoot the bank shot?!?

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