Basketball Magazine

Trouble Brewing In "Lob City" - Who's to Blame for Clippers' Struggles?

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

Trouble Brewing

Photo: US Presswire -  Crystal Logiudice 

- Adam Parker

The Los Angeles Clippers are a team in free fall. Tensions are running high in the locker room, most notably in the relationship between head coach Vinny Del Negro and his players, according to several sources close to the situation.
"Vinny has lost the team," one source said. "They don't want to play hard for him."
With the Clippers having lost 12 of their last 19 games, this once-promising season is now in shambles. Needless to say, Del Negro might be hitting the market for a new coaching gig sooner rather than later, because as it stands, he's in the final guaranteed year of his contract. The Clippers hold a team option (that they aren't likely to renew at this point) for next season.
Most of the players, according to sources, believe it's time for a change. They cite the uncertainty of Del Negro's rotation as a major issue. With the front office adding several to the roster throughout this abbreviated season -- Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Bobby Simmons and Nick Young -- plus Eric Bledsoe's return from injury in February, players' minutes have fluctuated from one game to the next.
Beyond that, players have complained that Del Negro's offensive and defensive schemes are too simplistic and predictable and they say he plays favorites when doling out the criticism, according to sources. They say while he refuses to harshly criticizes stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but he does not hold his punches when piling on the team's lesser players.
"That's a big problem," one player said. "The best coaches jump on whoever deserves it, no matter who it is."
It sounds to me like Del Negro might be a little too starstruck to go boots to behinds on everyone responsible for the Clippers' latest struggles.
Okay. Maybe that's a little unfair. But what, if any, other reason could explain how a team with so much talent is practically throwing in the white flag?
If Del Negro wants to continue being a head coach, then he needs to start acting like one. Stop trying to be the players' friend and make an example of anyone who needs it, regardless of star power. If Paul committed too many avoidable turnovers, bring it to his attention. If Griffin doesn't show enough effort on defense, call him out on it.
It's that simple.
Once you start reaming the stars on the team for their mistakes and get them to take ownership of them, the team, as a whole, will undoubtedly respect you more for it.
Who knows? They might even learn to respect you enough to start playing better so you can stay in the playoff hunt and not give your fifth seed away to the ninth place Utah Jazz, who are currently only two games out at this point in the season.
Another contributing factor has got to be the loss of Chauncey Billups to a torn Achilles earlier this season.
Since then, the Clippers have gone an abysmal 11-13. Without Chauncey's leadership on the court, and in the locker room, as well as his timely shot-making, I don't like the Clip' squad's chances of digging themselves out of this hole. At least when Chauncey was there, his presence on the floor masked some of, or rather most of, the lackadaisical coaching by Del Negro and his staff.
But when it comes down to who or what is really at the root of the Clippers' unceremonious fall from grace, no one is safe. Del Negro and his staff are doing very little at this point. They've essentially become figureheads on the Clippers' bench in overpriced suits. The players -- including Paul and Griffin -- aren't being held accountable for their mistakes.
And at the head of it all is one man -- owner Donald Sterling -- who, despite what talent he's put together on paper, still has yet to figure out how to get the Clippers out of this annoyingly deep rut they've been stuck in for what seems like decades.
Can the Clippers change their fortunes?
We'd like to think so. Hopefully, for the sake of their faithful fanbase -- it will be sooner rather than later.
Be sure to follow Beard And Stache on Twitter @BeardAndStacheand also Adam @Adam_Parker43, Like our Facebook page HERE!

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