The Clippers’ head coaching job is undoubtedly the most intriguing out of all of the ones that are currently open for next season. Assuming Chris Paul re-signs with the team in free agency, L.A. will return the core of a team that was talented enough to win 56 regular season games and two in the playoffs, before eventually falling in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Despite the level of success, however, it’s a fragile time for the franchise. There have been rumblings of friction between Paul and Blake Griffin, and young center DeAndre Jordan has yet to develop into a player worthy of the contract that will pay him in excess of $22 million over the next two years.
The Clippers need a veteran coach who can relate to and respect a player of Paul’s stature, and one who can successfully manage egos so that the rest of the team falls in line. It makes sense, then, that Alvin Gentry will be among the candidates considered for the position.
Although Alvin Gentry has a standing invitation to join Mike D’Antoni’s staff as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers next season, he’d prefer to return to Los Angeles as a head coach … with the Clippers.
“If you look at that job, it’s probably the best one out there,” Gentry said of the Clippers’ vacancy Thursday in an interview on ESPNLA 710. “When you take into consideration the talent level that they have and what they did this year.”
League sources have told ESPNLosAngeles.com that Gentry will be considered for the Clippers’ job once the process gets more serious.
Gentry is known as a players’ coach who is capable of commanding the respect of both the veterans and the younger talent on the roster. He’s a leader who prefers an offense-first style of basketball, which would be well-suited to the strengths of Paul running the point with the rest of the talent currently in place.
As someone who coached the Clippers once before from 2000-03, Gentry knows what he’d be getting into in terms of both the L.A. market and the organizational structure (read: the involvement of team owner Donald Sterling). He’s well-suited to handle the large media contingent, and has shown he can lead a talented team deep into the playoffs, having done so in 2010 when he took the Suns to the Western Conference Finals.
Gentry’s tenure in Phoenix ended in the middle of last season, when he was no longer suited for the full-fledged rebuild the team was plunged into. He was the victim of poor choices made by Suns GM Lance Blanks, who was subsequently fired following a dismal 25-57 season.
Gentry will have some strong competition for the position in Los Angeles; both Nate McMillan and Byron Scott seem to have the similar necessary characteristics to provide the leadership the Clippers desperately need. But he’s as strong a candidate as any given the situation, and would be a more than solid choice as the one tasked with taking the team to the next level.