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NBA Coaching Carousel: Why the Los Angeles Clippers Should Hire Avery Johnson

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Head coach Avery Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets directs his players in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors on November 3, 2012  in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-100.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Charles BennettSenior Analyst IMay 22, 2013

It’s been recently revealed by ESPN that the Los Angeles Clippers are going to let Vinny Del Negro walk as coach.

This comes after he won the Clip Show’s first division title and followed that up with a first-round playoff exit amidst much criticism.

I see the choice of the next Clippers coach as being governed by two factors. One is that the Clippers need a coach who would make Chris Paul happy enough to not bolt to the Dallas Mavericks or some other team in the offseason.

Another is that Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling doesn’t want to shell out the big bucks for a marquee coach like Phil Jackson.

To placate Chris Paul, I suggest hiring a coach who is a former point guard and runs a point guard-centric offense. Maybe a coach who has won rings as a player, then taken a team to the NBA Finals.

Such a coach exists in Avery Johnson.

The 5'11" Avery Johnson spent 16 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the San Antonio Spurs, where he won a title in 1999. Less than a year after retiring as a player, the “Little General” was a head coach.  

Johnson has a career 58-percent winning percentage, with a Coach of the Year Award and three 50-win seasons. He has won four playoff series, with three of those coming in the 2006 campaign.  

Johnson's best record came in 2007, when the Mavericks posted 67 wins against 15 losses in Dirk Nowitzki's MVP year.  

Avery Johnson runs a very point guard-centric offense that looks for, amongst other things, fast-break and lob opportunities. If there is any team in the NBA that is built for such opportunities, it is the LA Clippers.

Another thing to like about Johnson is that he likes rotating in bench players. He did this with a good bench in Dallas and a weak bench in New Jersey. He could do it again with good Clippers players.

Sure, Avery Johnson is one of the better commodities on the market and won’t come cheap, but he certainly won’t command Phil Jackson money, and perhaps not even Van Gundy money. Johnson’s exit from the Nets has seriously deteriorated his ability to command cash.

Some would point out that Avery Johnson didn't mesh with one of the league's other top-tier point guards, Deron Williams. Then again, Deron Williams didn't mesh with John Stockton's coach, either.

Another thing Johnson is faulted for is being a poor developer of talent.  Fortunately, the Clippers have a solid veteran core that has little need for a developer.

Bottom line: There are a number of candidates the Clippers could look at for their head coaching job.  But the best candidate is Avery Johnson. 

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