Los Angeles Clippers Next Coach Props Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/29/2013
I rather laugh when I read that Los Angeles Clippers general manager Gary Sacks will decide on the coach to replace the fired Vinny Del Negro. Let's be clear here: the decision maker on the next Clips' coach is going to be Chris Paul.
Of course, Paul can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. While Blake Griffin brought excitement -- "Lob City" -- to the Clippers, it was Paul who brought credibility and realistic Western Conference title hopes when he was traded from the New Orleans Hornets.
Del Negro did a fine job with Los Angeles, leading the team to its first-ever Pacific Division title this year. But when the Clippers blew a 2-0 first-round playoff lead to a Grizzlies team that had beaten in the previous postseason, Del Negro was all but a goner. It didn't help that he didn't have the respect of reportedly a good half of the locker room, including Paul.
Sacks says he's confident Paul will re-sign, and I don't really know why he wouldn't. I don't think Paul will find a better situation unless somehow Dallas can get Dwight Howard and Paul in a package. But the NBA's best point guard will have a say in the new Clippers coach as part of any new unofficial contract agreement, no matter what the GM says publicly.
It appears the hottest coaching candidate out there right now is the Memphis Grizzlies' Lionel Hollins, he of the 214-201 career regular-season record. However, the Grizz were a mess when Hollins got there, and he led the team to the Western Conference Finals for the first time this season. Hollins' contract with the Grizzlies ends June 30, and it's hard to imagine why the team would let him go. Yes, the Grizzlies are a bit of a penny-pinching franchise, and Hollins publicly was unhappy when Rudy Gay was traded to Toronto earlier this season in a salary dump. Hollins made $2.3 million this season, and I'd guess he'd want at least $4 million a year.
The Clippers, Nets and perhaps Milwaukee Bucks are expected to ask permission to interview Hollins. The Memphis job is way better than the latter two (Nets will spend but are capped out forever). I might argue the L.A. job is better than Memphis, however. The question is: Will cheap Clips owner Donald Sterling pay a coach top dollar? He has finally shown a willingness to pay star players, but not coaches. Sterling prefers to keep his coaches and front office personnel on one-year deals after getting burned with a $13.5 million buyout to fired Mike Dunleavy three years ago. Sterling has to know the Clippers' window is now, however. With the Lakers possibly in for a bit of a downward trend, especially if Howard leaves, the Clippers could even steal the buzz in L.A. for a few years.
With that said, here is a Bovada prop on the next Clippers coach and my thoughts:
Alvin Gentry (3/1): Not exactly a big name, and Gentry has a career 335-370 record, including 158-144 with the Suns over five seasons. He and the Suns mutually parted ways in January. This wouldn't excite the fan base.
Brian Shaw (3/1): How has Shaw not gotten a head coaching job yet? He won three NBA titles as a player with the Lakers and two as an assistant coach with the team. He was a very respected player and is thought of very highly as an assistant -- he's currently the associate head coach with the Pacers. Phil Jackson highly endorses Shaw. The one negative: no head coaching experience. Plus, he is too "Laker" for the Clippers? Also a possible negative: he can't interview until the Pacers are eliminated from the playoffs.
Hollins (4/1): I think he stays in Memphis. Bovada also offers a prop on Hollins' future. Coaching the Grizzlies is +120, the Nets +150, the Clippers +400, of course, and Bucks +550.
Byron Scott (5/1): Another guy with big Laker ties. Paul could certainly vouch for Scott if he wanted as Scott coached Paul in New Orleans. Not sure why the Clips would hire a guy who is nearly 100 games under .500 in his coaching career. Kyrie Irving did blossom under him in Cleveland.
Nate McMillan (11/2): The former player has a solid 478-452 career coaching record with Seattle and Portland but won just a single playoff series during his tenures there. The Detroit Pistons are very interested in McMillan, but he's supposedly on the L.A. short list. Where would you rather live?
Stan and Jeff Van Gundy (both 10/1): I'm not sure either will ever coach again, especially Jeff, who is terrific as an NBA analyst on ESPN/ABC. Stan already said he's not coaching this upcoming season and has turned down interviews.
I think it's Shaw. He's a former point guard and fairly young guy (47) who can relate to Paul. Some Clippers already have vouched for him, like Lamar Odom (not that it much matter what Odom says these days). Plus, the team can get him relatively cheap. Shaw knows the city and is by all accounts a rising star in the profession. The rest of these candidates are retreads. The team is expected to have a coach in place before the NBA Draft on June 27. Presuming the Heat finish off the Pacers in the East Finals, the Clippers could talk to Shaw early next week and get things done.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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