Timing is Key for Dunleavy’s Depature

By Michael Eaves

February 4, 2010

Shortly after I posted on my Facebook and Twitter pages that Mike Dunleavy was stepping down as Clippers head coach to concentrate on his GM duties, I received several responses such as…

“About time!”

“What took so long?”

“Good riddance!”

Obviously, some fans were using this opportunity to vent their frustration on yet another disappointing season.  While some of their remarks crossed the line of decency and respect, it’s easy to understand the emotions the fans have been feeling.

This season started with such promise.  Not only did the Clippers secure Blake Griffin in the draft, but training camp opened with an improved and newly motivated Baron Davis and Chris Kaman.  The first trip to the playoffs since 2006 seemed not only likely, but inevitable.

However, like so many Clippers seasons in the past, the team’s plans just didn’t turn out as hoped.  If it wasn’t another rash of injuries leaving them short-handed, it was poor execution down the stretch leading to bad losses.  You add those together, and you get a 21-28 record at the time of Dunleavy’s resignation, including  a stretch where the team lost 5 of 6 games.

So regardless of whether Dunleavy was solely responsible for everything that went wrong this season–obviously, he wasn’t–his decision to step down may not have come at a better time.

“It just seems clear that the team needs a fresh voice and we hope that our players will respond in a positive way,” said Clippers President Andy Roeser.

There are two reasons why this move comes at a good time for the organization:  1) it’s still not too late to make a serious run at the playoffs (7 games out with 33 to play) and 2) with the trade deadline looming and big free agent market available this summer, the Clippers are in a prime position to pull off some blockbuster moves (they have plenty of room under the cap to even make an offer to the top free agent prize:  LeBron James).