Vinny Del Negro

Reports: Vinny Del Negro “serious” contender to get Timberwolves job


Vinny Del Negro interviews well. He can wow a front office with tales of how he will improve and develop the team. The stories about how he charmed Donald Sterling and his wife over dinner, securing the Clippers job (when the rest of management wanted to go another direction) should tell you all you need to know.

That fact also explains why he may be the next coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In what would be a body blow to a fan base that a year ago had such high hopes and now sees the team disintegrating, both Marc Stein of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports are reporting Del Negro is a leading candidate to be the next Minnesota coach. First we go to Stein at ESPN, who explains Del Negro may be moving past the expected favorite there Sam Mitchell.

Sources told on Thursday that Del Negro, who is also being considered for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ job, was spotted last week interviewing with Wolves president and part-owner Flip Saunders and is firmly in the mix for the post after the collapse of Minnesota’s talks with Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger.

But sources say Mitchell is by no means a shoo-in to replace the retiring Rick Adelman, with Del Negro said to have made a strong impression on the Wolves in their talks to date.

If your first thought is, “no way Kevin Love stays in Minnesota if Del Negro is the coach” you are half right — Kevin Love isn’t staying in Minnesota no matter who GM Flip Saunders hires as coach. Hiring Del Negro is apparently about looking ahead, according to Wojnarowski.

Yes, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose had some success under Del Negro, but they’ve had much more under other coaches.

That’s the thing about Del Negro, his win totals are good enough that you can’t just dismiss him as someone with no idea what they are doing. What you can rip him for simplistic offenses, his vapid interviews, the insanely heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and most importantly his treatment of players. Rose and Paul did better with the next coaches they had because the systems gave them more options and pushed then to give up the ball a little rather than make all the decisions. Del Negro tore down the talented DeAndre Jordan to the point he was useless late in games, where Doc Rivers was able to build him up and put Jordan in positions to get Defensive Player of the Year votes. That’s just one of many examples.

We shouldn’t ignore the fact Del Negro’s teams have done well in the regular season — he has a career winning percentage of .533, his teams have never been below .500, and the last season he coached he won 56 games. But his teams are very beatable in the playoffs because of his systems. He left the Bulls and Clippers and those team got demonstrably better (to be fair, he was replaced by two of the best in Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers).

We will see how this plays out, but I honestly never thought we’d see Del Negro in the league again. Especially on a young team trying to build up and develop talent — he talks a good game but the evidence points to a different conclusion.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
Leave a comment

He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
Leave a comment

With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.