Who gets the Clippers coaching gig? Who wants it?

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It has been a Clipper season like so many others. Disappointing, injury filled and ending with an apathetic team sleepwalking its way through the end of the season while the future looks murky.

We’ve seen that movie. And the sequels. Yet, Clippers fans want the trailer for next year’s movie. They want to be sold. They are an optimistic lot that wants to believe.

But we have no idea what that movie will look like. Apparently Neil Olshey will get to keep the general manager’s gig, at least for now, and through the draft. The caveat on that being predicting owner Donald Sterling’s thinking is like trying to predict earthquakes, an inexact science at best.

The bigger question is the coaching vacancy. Will it be filled before the draft or left open until later in the summer? Will it be left open so that a recruitment of LeBron James (you hear that name from some Clippers people, seriously) could include a “pick your coach” deal?

From various reports, we know that Larry Brown at one point made inquiry, because it is in his DNA to ask about any open job even if he has no intention of taking it. He’s is not leaving Charlotte with Michael Jordan as the owner. The name Byron Scott gets thrown around, but he is reportedly just not that interested.

The more likely outcome is a current assistant somewhere who wants a head gig (Fanhouse suggests Dallas assistant Dwane Casey) or someone who wants the job but has no experience, like television color commentator Mark Jackson.

There really is an opportunity for the Clippers. With cap space, another high draft pick and Blake Griffin coming next season (knocking on wood) to join a good core, the Clippers have the chance to reshape their roster and be good fast.

But it will all be moot if the Clippers — from owner Donald Sterling on down — don’t answer one question: What kind of team are they trying to build?

You think that is an obvious question, but how many teams around the NBA can you say clearly have a top to bottom organizational philosophy on building a team? Ten, tops? Maybe fewer. If you’re going to win you need to know what kind of team you are building — defense first, seven seconds or less, triangle, there are countless others — then get players to fit the system. What system best fits your star? Get a coach who can instill that system. Then go get role players who can blend with that system.

The Clippers have no organizational philosophy, no system, so the team floats with the winds of chance (as do a lot of franchises, the Clippers are just particularly inept at it). They need a direction. They need a steady hand on the rudder. That would make the movie interesting.

Although the smart money is another sequel to the usual Clippers movie.

Doc Rivers: Clippers might blow up roster if they fall short this season

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin DeAndre Jordan, Doc Rivers
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The Clippers have gone 56-26, 57-25 and 56-26 the last three years – clearing the commonly accepted 55-win bar for championship contention.

But they’ve also won only zero, one and one playoff series in that span.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

The Clippers have had three cracks at it with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan all in their primes, and they’re not afraid to admit the fourth could be their last — that another flameout will force them to ask whether the core has grown stale.

“We’re right on the borderline,” Doc Rivers tells Grantland during a long sit-down at his office. “I have no problem saying that. I’m a believer that teams can get stale. After a while, you don’t win. It just doesn’t work. We’re right at the edge. Oklahoma City is on the edge. Memphis, too. We just have to accept it.”

I disagree with Rivers.

It’s so hard to assemble a roster that can win a title, and the Clippers absolutely have one. If they fall short this season, they’ll probably still have a title-contending roster the following year. They shouldn’t throw that away just for the sake of change.

Paul (30), Jordan (27) and Griffin (26) are young enough for the Clippers to remain patient.

Rivers makes a good point later in Lowe’s article:

“You need luck in the West,” he says. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs. But that’s also a lesson for us: When you have a chance to close, you have to do it.”

The Warriors were the NBA’s best team last season, but they also got plenty of breaks. That’s why they won the title.

The Clippers might need more luck to win a championship, but it wouldn’t be an overwhelming amount. The better a team is, the less luck it needs. The Grizzlies can probably win a title with all the right breaks, but they need more than the Clippers.

It’s about being good enough to win with the right breaks.

The Clippers are that. They’ll probably be that unless they do something drastic.

Unless a lopsided trade comes around, I’d stick with Paul, Griffin and Jordan until they really prove they can’t win together. That would take years. A team not winning a title is not proof it can’t win a title. Every year, multiple teams can win a championship. Obviously, only one does.

Rivers has it good with his big three. This shouldn’t be a make-or-break year for them.

51 Q: Which coaches start the year on the hot seat?

Lionel Hollins
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Going into every season, there are a few coaches under pressure to perform or risk losing their jobs. This season, the operative word there is “few.” Looking around the NBA, most coaches are either new on the job or aren’t in any real danger of losing theirs. There are five brand-new coaches: Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City), Fred Hoiberg (Chicago), Alvin Gentry (New Orleans), Michael Malone (Denver) and Scott Skiles (Orlando). The coaches they replaced were mostly the ones whose names often came up in these discussions. Practically everywhere else, there is either a long track record of success or clear signs that ownership is happy with the job the coach is doing. Coaches who are actually on the hot seat are few and far between. But here are a few who might find themselves in trouble if their teams underperform:

Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix Suns): Two years ago, Hornacek was a Coach of the Year candidate for taking a team that was supposed to be one of the league’s very works and making them into almost a playoff team. Last season was another near-miss. This season, the Suns are once again on the bubble of being a playoff team — there’s a chance they could grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference, if a lot goes right. Hornacek deserves a lot of credit for their sooner-than-expected success. The only reason he’s on this list is the potential for a chemistry disaster on this roster. Between Markieff Morris‘ situation and another attempt at a two-point guard lineup (this time with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight), there’s a lot that could go wrong, and if the Suns fall out of playoff contention. Hornacek could find himself in a little hot water. But that’s unlikely.

Lionel Hollins (Brooklyn Nets): Hollins has always felt like something of a short-term solution in Brooklyn. The Nets tried going young at the head coaching spot with Jason Kidd, who clashed with management over control before leaving for Milwaukee. This Nets roster is middling at best — some solid veterans, not a lot of young talent, no future hope to speak of unless they land a marquee free agent next summer. Their ceiling is the eighth seed and a first-round exit; their floor is a lot worse than that. It would take a catastrophic start to the year for Hollins to lose his job during the season, but there isn’t exactly a lot of long-term security in his position.

Derek Fisher (New York Knicks): It’s hard to see Phil Jackson firing his protege less than two years in, but the Knicks enter the season with the goal of competing for a playoff spot and a lot of potential to be worse than that. Don’t rule out James Dolan stepping in.

Steve Clifford (Charlotte Hornets): Clifford’s chances of losing his job during the season basically disappeared when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down with a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out the entire season. Without their best perimeter defender, the Hornets’ expectations are a lot lower than they would have been. Now, it’s hard to see them competing seriously for a playoff spot unless Jeremy Lamb makes a huge leap and proves himself capable of being an NBA-caliber starter. If they’re even competitive, it will be an enormous credit to Clifford, who is well-regarded around the league. The story would have been different if they had entered the season with a healthy roster and underperformed, but the MKG injury likely buys Clifford a year before this conversation starts up again.