(Ed’s Note: Phillip Barnett has been down with the team since the ETSF/TalkHoops days of 2008. As is life, sometimes it takes a personal challenge to muster up words consistently. The self-proclaimed “I’m So Hideous(s)” is taking a new journey in putting up 300 words a day on the many questions, concerns and thoughts that happen to cross his mind. With that in mind, here is the the next installment of The 300.)
Along with the news of Vinny Del Negro’s possible re-entry into the NBA as a head coach came the jokes about his career struggles as a tactician, especially in out-of-timeout and late-game situations.
The head scratching is warranted. Watch film of teams Del Negro has coached and there’s a tangible lack of creativity and flow in all offensive sets. Del Negro led teams that notoriously failed to capitalize on match-up advantages in the half court and constantly struggled to get the best looks for his best players in late-game situations.
Largely, Del Negro’s issues as a head coach are due to a lack of experience. His first job coaching at any level was in Chicago. Del Negro did not spend any time as an assistant on any bench and earned his way up through the NBA ranks as a broadcaster turned front office suit turned coach. He’s always been a well-liked guy and largely earned his first two jobs, both over Dwane Casey, who has ample experience on the bench, because of his ostensible likability.
Even with the knowledge of Del Negro’s deficiencies, he wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible hire for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his first season as a coach, his team did not improve its defensive efficiency from the previous season, and it was only his second season with Chicago that his team did not improve in the win column from the year before (the Bulls stayed pat at .500).
Del Negro has done an admirable job working with youth and is, by and large, a fairly decent communicator. He’s inherited a great talent in Derrick Rose and a team that was primed for improvement in the Clippers. Should he land the job in Minnesota, he’ll have his last opportunity to prove his coaching acumen.
Phillip Barnett featuring Phillip Barnett.