Saturday, July 3, 2010
Clippers' coaching search in holding pattern
By Kevin Arnovitz
The Clippers are unlikely to name a head coach before Tuesday, sources close to the situation said on Saturday. The team met with Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and former Chicago Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
A decision was initially expected this weekend, once general manager Neil Olshey and team president Andy Roeser returned from their meeting with LeBron James in Cleveland. But a lack of consensus in the Clippers camp might require another visit from the two candidates next week.
Casey was thought to be the initial favorite, but a strong performance by Del Negro in the interview process tightened the horse race. According to sources, Del Negro surprised the Clippers with the blueprint he presented to management, specifically his level of organization and his plans for player development. Casey, who has long been on the Clippers' radar, delivered precisely what the brass expected from a sharp, serious tactician. Despite his best efforts, Casey's firm grasp of the game and his strong schematic vision for the Clippers weren't enough to separate him from Del Negro.
The proceedings bear an eerie resemblance to what transpired in Chicago two years ago, when Casey and Del Negro were the two finalists for the Bulls' vacancy. Casey came into the interview process with a lifetime of coaching experience, working with luminaries such as Pete Newell and serving on some of the most respected staffs in the league. By most accounts, he led Del Negro down the stretch -- until the former Suns' broadcaster and front-office executive captivated decision-makers in Chicago with his presence during the final stage of interviews.
For Casey, the process must be excruciating. He has been a finalist for a number of openings over the past few years and earns nearly unanimous praise around the league for both his manner and acumen. If not for a late intervention by one segment of Atlanta's ownership, he'd likely be the head coach in Atlanta today. Three weeks later, he must continue a sales job with a Clippers organization increasingly intrigued with Del Negro.