Did anyone really think Jeff Van Gundy was going to leave the comforts and cushy schedule of the broadcast booth to work at the whims of Donald Sterling?
Even within the Clippers they had to know this was a long shot request, but you might as well try. They did.
Van Gundy and Clippers officials did talk more than once about the possibility of the job, but discussions have become dormant, sources said.
Someday Van Gundy may return, but it’s going to have to be a perfect landing spot.
Coaches reportedly on the Clippers list are Lionel Hollins, Byron Scott, Brian Shaw and, if he comes available, George Karl. They are going after big names, ones they can sell the fans an who can ideally lift this Clipper team to the next level.
Here’s the thing about handicapping the race for the Clippers head coaching job — owner Donald Sterling takes a personal interest in this, he makes the call from a list of suggestions, and that makes the criteria for getting the job about more than Xs and Os. Kevin Arnovitz did a great breakdown for ESPN and he explained it all.
The management team has been given the freedom to draw up the short list and they’ll be invited to voice their recommendations, but the final decision on a head coaching hire has always been Sterling’s call. That was the case when Sterling opted for Del Negro in 2010 over management’s recommendation of Dwane Casey, and Sterling will exercise his rightful claim as owner to render the verdict against this year.
The Clippers job isn’t won in a conference room or in whiteboard exhibitions, it’s won at Sterling’s home up in Malibu and at dining rooms for the well-heeled in Beverly Hills. Of all the privileges as team owner, choosing a head coach might be the one Sterling savors most. The ring-kissing procession places him at the center of the affair. Candidates regale him with praise, and share insider anecdotes. They grant him equal footing on discussions of basketball while eliciting his opinions, which they listen to attentively, along with Sterling’s descriptions of what he wants in a head coach. That the open position with his team is more desirable than ever makes this year’s proceedings all the more fun for Sterling.