Clippers set to hire Vinny Del Negro as coach


delnegro.jpgTwo years ago, the Chicago Bulls were faced with a choice: the experienced and tactically wise Dwane Casey, or the energetic newcomer who had no experience but had a plan for developing young talent in Vinny Del Negro.

Two years later, the Clippers were faced with the exact same choice — and they had gotten to see Vinny Del Negro in action.

They made the exact same choice.

Vinny Del Negro is expected to be the new coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, as Kevin Arnovitz reported over at The two sides have a deal in principle, but the details have to be worked out.

Del Negro pitched player development in his meetings with the Clippers, coming in with plans for each player. That impressed on a Clippers team that will be very young next year — Blake Griffin will be key and he is essentially a rookie (after missing his rookie season with a knee injury), Eric Gordon, plus just drafted forward Al-Farouq Aminu and guard Eric Bledsoe. Outside of Chris Kaman and Baron Davis, there is very little experience on this team.

Davis may be the key to Del Negro’s success. When focused and motivated, he remains one of the better point guards in the league. But he was frustrated under the controlling Mike Dunleavy and never seemed to care during the Chris Hughes era. Heck, let’s be honest — Davis has had issues with every coach he’s had since Paul Silas. If Del Negro can get buy in from Davis — real buy in and effort nightly — the Clippers become a much better team. But that seems a long shot based on history (and that one would not be on Del Negro).

Del Negro was not a tactical specialist with the Bulls — they ran a lot of top-of-the-key pick and rolls, their plays out of timeouts were unimpressive, and their sets were pretty basic. Teams could adjust to them and did. Granted, Del Negro may have more raw talent now, but he did not utilize what he had all that well in Chicago. That led to his rocky tenure.

But the Bulls also played hard for him. Players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah developed under him. He had his supporters and his teams made the playoffs both years.

Still, it feels like the Clippers failed to learn from history.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”