In explosive comments by Coach Dunleavy yesterday, he dared Owner Donald Sterling to fire him. Mike Dunleavy came out swinging, telling Donald Sterling, you want to make a change in coaches, "Be my guest. It would be the biggest mistake you ever made."
He then went on to proclaim that it was Sterling who nixed two trades last summer that would have improved the team. One trade was Corey Maggette, whose contract is expiring this summer anyway with no guarantee you can sign him, for Jason Terry. Sterling is in love with Maggette so, No Deal.
Dunleavy also wanted to sign former San Antonio free-agent guard Beno Udrih, but the Clippers' bean counter, Andy Roeser, decided Udrih wasn't worth the money it would take to sign him. Beno is one of the most improved players this season, so that was a poor judgement. The problem seems to be that I have always felt that the reason the Clippers have drafted so poorly in past years has been because Sterling was meddling in player personnel matters. That is a problem because Sterling isn't a basketball man. And when you have bean counters instead of basketball people making player decisions, you have a big problem. I wonder if that same bean counter has noticed how badly ticket sales are and TV ratings. The loss of revenue this year must be astounding. It seems evident to me that is the reason that everybody's tempers are so short.
Elgin Baylor and Coach Dunleavy are always going to be a better judge of horse flesh that a real estate investor. Now that Sterling has meddled in the job that he supposedly gave to Coach Dunleavy, and that is to make player and drafting decisions, he wants to cry about how things are not working out. Two days ago in an interview he complained about the job Dunleavy and Baylor were doing and Baylor was apparently on the other end of the room. He went on to say if things didn't get better and they didn't make the playoffs this season, changes would be made, suggesting that Dunleavy or Baylor could be gone. Dunleavy implied again yesterday that Sterling just doesn't know what he is talking about and doesn't know basketball by saying that the Clippers would have to go 34 -10 the rest of way to make the playoffs which is not a practical thought under the current circumstances. "Where we are today as far as making the playoffs, nobody in their right mind would bet on that."
As far as future decisions on player personnel matters, "You give me the budget," Dunleavy said, "and I'm going to be OK with it. I'm not asking anyone to go to the luxury tax." "But if we gather information and put deals in place that I think benefit the team and somebody who is not in basketball operations disagrees with it, sorry, you've just taken it out of my hands."
So, the the family fued begins. The battle lines have been drawn. The only way this can be fixed is by Sterling getting out of the way. I have not always been sure about Coach Dunleavy's decisions on drafting, trades and free agent signings, but now I am not so sure those decisions were Dunleavy's to make on his own. But one thing is for sure, Dunleavy knows more about players than Sterling and the bean counter. Putting a good team together is hard enough without having to get the approval of the owner and FO people who have no clue.