There are have been reports that the Clipper players are tuning head coach Vinny Del Negro out. A coaching change may be coming if Del Negro does not right the ship soon. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP
The Clippers are in a nosedive, losing three in a row and posting an 11-14 record since losing Chauncey Bullips
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
The Clippers were the toast of the town a few months back, but now they are on the verge of falling out of the playoffs.
They were cruising to one of their best seasons ever, but since losing veteran guard Chauncey Bullips for the season, they have lost 14 of their 25 games; they have fallen from 3rd in the Western Conference to 6th, and they are only one game ahead of the 9th place team (only eight teams make the playoffs in each conference); and now they have lost three games in a row.
The Clippers scoring is down with the loss of Bullips and the horrible shooting of small forward Caron Butler over the past month. All-Star point guard Chris Paul has had to take more of a scoring role, as his points per game are up, mostly in part because he is taking more shots per game. But his shooting percentage is down.
If the Clippers end up with a low seed in the playoffs, or even worse, miss the playoffs, this may be their most disappointing season of all time. This would be worse than any season where they failed to win 20 games.
This season would be more of a disappointment because the hype surrounding this team was so high. The excitement level about this team was insane. Lob City! The expectations were that this Clippers team was going to be a contender in the Western Conference. The second round of the playoffs was a given. The Western Conference Finals was a possibility. The NBA Finals was not far fetched.
An early exit or missing the playoffs all together is now more probable than going deep into post-season play.
If there is a fall guy, it is looking like it will be head coach Vinny Del Negro. With the amount of talent on this team, the head coach will be the first guy to go when heads start to role.
Del Negro was the head coach on last year’s young but talented Clippers team, and that team only won 32 games.
Before coming to the Clippers, Del Negro was the coach of the Chicago Bulls the two seasons before. After posting consecutive 41-41 seasons and losing in the first round of the playoffs both years, the Bulls fired him. The very next season, which was last year, the Bulls won 62 games, the most in the NBA, and they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. This season the Bulls again have the most wins in the league.
The Clippers offense has become stagnant, there have been questions about their efforts in games, and reports are that Del Negro has lost the locker room. All those are signs that point to the coach being fired.
The Clippers were the toast of the town, and after the All Star break they were in first place in the Pacific Division that late in the season for the first time in team history. But their slide, combined with the Lakers getting their act together has the Clippers three games behind their cross-town rivals in the divisional race.
The only thing going for the Clippers right now is the schedule over the next week. Their next five games are at home. If they struggle while playing in their home building, a coaching change will come shortly.
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