It’s expected that Vinny Del Negro’s days are numbered as the coach of the Clippers. After a first-round playoff exit it’s a matter of when the axe falls not if.
The “when” may well be when Del Negro meets with Clippers owner Donald Sterling next week, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.
Vinny Del Negro is expected to meet with Donald Sterling in the coming days to discuss his precarious future as the Clippers’ coach, league sources told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.
Del Negro, whose contract expires at the end of June, could meet with the Clippers’ owner next Monday or Tuesday, though the meeting hasn’t been set yet, sources said.
While the Clippers had a regular-season best 56 wins and first ever division title, they were ousted in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies in what was a disappointing exit for the team.
More than that, on the court there were questions about Del Negro’s simple offensive sets, inability to develop DeAndre Jordan, inconsistent defense (although they were a top 10 defense in the NBA) and whether he could lead a good team to the next level. There were also questions about whether Chris Paul — the Clippers star and free agent to be July 1, the guy they have to re-sign — wants Del Negro back.
On top of that, there was friction between Del Negro and the Los Angeles front office — it was Del Negro that pushed the Kevin Garnett trade rumors at the deadline, not the front office. And no boss likes it when you pursue and agenda other than theirs.
Rumor is the Clippers want to go big with their hire. If owner Donald Sterling is really willing to cut the check, look for them to talk to guys like Stan Van Gundy and his brother Jeff about the position.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach — with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be their top target — but it won’t be J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as the team’s interim coach since they fired Kevin McHale in November. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bickerstaff has informed Rockets management that he’s no longer in consideration for the job:
After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Tuesday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials that he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.
Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.
After the Rockets’ disappointing season and disastrous playoff performance — where they lost in five not-very-competitive games to a Stephen Curry-less Warriors —it makes sense that Bickerstaff would rather get a fresh start as an assistant somewhere else, where he could build up his credentials and be a more highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the future. He isn’t a big name, so he likely wouldn’t be able to command as much money as the Rockets’ head coach as a more established figure would be. Given the Rockets’ uncertain future with Dwight Howard almost certain to opt out and not a lot of long-term pieces around James Harden, it’s not the most stable job in the world.