ALERT - Last Friday many Clippers fans were relieved to hear that the team and Neil Olshey had agreed in principle to a contract to keep Olshey here in LA as the Clippers GM. Then on Monday, for some unreported reason, the deal fell apart. There is a lot of speculation as to what happened. Did Olshey back out on his word? Did Donald Sterling back out? Did Portland raise their offer to a level that DTS didn't want to match? We have more questions than answers at this point.
Not all the fans are disappointed to see Olshey go. He did orchestrate a team that had the highest winning percentage in franchise history. And even though he managed to get CP3 and Chauncey Billups here, and made some nifty draft picks, many believe he gave up to much to get Chris Paul. He traded away Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and a 1st round draft pick to get Paul. Moreover, many feel he overpaid for Caron Butler and way overpaid to match the contract offer for DeAndre Jordan. Then, when you throw in the contracts of Ryan Gomes and Mo Williams, many feel he has mortgaged the future.
Olshey's supporters point to that winning percentage and a trip to the second round of the playoffs as evidence he has been an effective GM. They also liked the additions of Reggie Evens, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Nick Young, all of whom Olshey acquired for chump change. They also like the draft picks of Trey Thompkins and Eric Bledsoe, whom Olshey refused to include in the trade for CP3.
As usual, when you evaluate the performance of a GM, it is a mixed bag, unless you are the San Antonion Spurs, who seem to make great roster moves almost every year. I wouldn't mind hiring the "understudy" who is now walking in the shadow of their GM. Meanwhile, there is a short list of experience GM's looking for a job that just might make a good fit for the Clippers, including Scott Perry, David Morway, and Jeff Bower. And then there is Shaq, who was recently considered for the Orlando job. Shaq declined and hasn't really shown an interest in being a GM.
One interesting candidate is Kiki Vandeweghe. Kiki was a star at UCLA before going on to a successful NBA career. Kiki initially had a front office role with the Dallas Mavericks, where he was instrumental in the development of Dirk Nowitzki. In 2001, Vandeweghe was named to the Nuggets' general manager position and ushered in a return by the Nuggets to the NBA playoffs. Interesting moves by Vandeweghe included the drafting of Carmelo Anthony in 2003, the trade for Marcus Camby in 2002, and hiring of George Karl as head coach in 2005. Shortly following a first-round playoff elimination at the hands of the Clippers in the 2006 playoffs, the Nuggets announced that Vandeweghe's contract would not be renewed.
After a stint as an NBA analyst for ESPN in 2007, the Nets announced that Vandeweghe would join the team as a special assistant to team president and general manager Rod Thorn. In 2009, Vandeweghe agreed to dual duties as interim head coach of the Nets while continuing to be general manager. After Nets ownership changed hands, Mikhail Prokhorov announced that Vandeweghe would not return the following season.
This summer will be different. This summer will actually be exciting. Why? Because instead of spending the next few months wringing our hands and fretting about how we are going to move this team from 16 wins to 20 wins, we will instead be getting excited about all the possibilities and opportunities that await the Clippers.
It will be all about how to get a playoff team that won 50 games (projected) up to the next level, a championship. But instead of being a franchise that players are trying to avoid, we will be the franchise that players will have their agents call. They will be wooing us this time around. And we won't have to overpay to get productive players.
The Clippers just announced that they have indeed picked up the option on Vinney Del Negro's contract for next season. In the announcement, they made it seem like the possibility of bringing in somebody else was never even open for discussion.
VDN coached the Clippers to the highest winning percentage in franchise history. That happened despite a slew of injuries that started with Eric Bledsoe missing a lot of the first half of the season, and losing his starting shooting guard, Chauncey Billups, for the balance of the season and the playoffs. We made it to the second round of the playoffs with our starting SF, Caron Butler, playing with a broken hand, Blake Griffin working through a sprained knee, and CP3 nursing a couple of mysterious injuries.
There was still a lot of speculation about whether or not VDN was the right guy to get the Clippers to the next level. The set offense, the pick and roll, and the pick and pop, were not a thing of beauty this season. It seemed that the Clippers were getting by on pure athleticism and talent rather than great coaching. They even had a hard time getting the ball inbounds immediately after a time out where VDN was busy crafting another one of his bloopers. Also, in certain critical areas, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan did not seem to improve this season at a time when they need to be making big strides in their development.
Adding fuel to the fire, we had coaches like Stan Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan, Mike D'Antoni, Phil Jackson, and others, who were availalble now and just might want to take over the reigns of a team in LA who is on their way up. Not only do you get Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but you get to coach on the biggest stage in the world....Staples Arena.
However, it is unclear who was instrumental in the return of VDN. If it is Donald Sterling, then maybe we just got punked. Many believe he is certainly not qualified to make any basketball decisions. And if it was Neil Olshey, then maybe we got punked again, now that he has left to go to Portland. One has to wonder if he was keeping his first choice for coach in his pocket so he could play that card in Portland.
If you don't want to miss out......stay tuned to CTB. Your buds here won't miss a thing, and it will hit here before anywhere else.
aka Don Allen