Just a couple of weeks after being ousted as Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls, former NC State point guard, Vinny Del Negro has has been hired as the head coach of perhaps the historically worst franchise in all of professional sports. (Link)
The Clippers actually do have some potential…and Del Negro is certainly hoping to hone their strengths and build a solid team. After helping developing Derek Rose and the other ‘Baby Bulls’ in Chicago, Del Negro has proven an penchant for molding young talent.
With Del Negro surely facing no shortage of skeptics, the Clippers will be looking to build with one of the most promising rosters among the league’s bad teams. They have rookie forward Blake Griffin set to finally begin his career after losing a season due to injury and the likes of Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman returning from the team that went 29-53 last season. They have draft picks Al-Farouq Aminu (forward, Wake Forest) and Eric Bledsoe (guard, Kentucky) as well. The Clippers also have plenty of salary cap room to add more pieces, as they are committed to approximately $33 million in salary for next season.
SFN highlighted in this post in June of 2008 that Del Negro was the third of Jim Valvano’s point guards in the mid-1980s to become the head coach of an NBA franchise.
Del Negro joins current NC State Head Coach, Sidney Lowe and one of the NBA’s best current coaches, Nate McMillan as former players from Coach Valvano’s NC State program to have become Head Coaches of NBA franchises. Add Dereck Whittenburg, Andy Kennedy and Terry Gannon’s prominence as a successful college coaches and as an ABC television announcer and one builds a very strong case to stick in the eye of the army of naysayers who criticized the ‘character’ of Valvano’s players and teams in the 1980s.