I’ve been wondering, as I’m sure a lot of folks have through the Clippers atrocious start, how long it would take for them to start getting frustrated. Really frustrated. The first six losses were tough, but I think everyone was being patient, knowing that it’s going to take time for this team to figure itself out after all the offseason turnover, injuries, and the rough, early season schedule of opponents.
I’d go in the locker room after games and while guys weren’t exactly happy, they weren’t depressed either.
Yesterday was a little different though. The locker room cleared out FAST after the game. Tempers were short, emotions high.
That was what guys in the NBA call a “bad loss.” Teams have them all the time, and you can survive with five or six of them in a season. You just have a lot less room for error after a 0-6 start.
As for whether there is a rift between Baron and coach, I have to say, I really haven’t seen anything major. If anything, I think each guy has gone out of his way to make the arrangement work. Though it should be noted that Mike and Baron do have pretty different styles.
Coach is constantly complimenting Baron’s abilities, attitude and leadership. He recognizes that Baron is the face of his franchise for the next five years, and it’s way too early for him to risk alienating him.
Baron has never openly vented to any of the regular beat reporters about any frustrations with Dunleavy, though he does acknowledge all the time that it’s taking a while for this team to develop an identity and flow.
After the game, Davis downplayed the notion of a rift between himself and Dunleavy. Essentially he acknowledged some stylistic issues, but saying that it was something they were working on and that he was wiling to keep trying.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but at the same time it’s something I’m willing to continue to grasp,” Davis said. “This is a different system than where I came from. I just have to continue to study and make sure I continue to do what he wants me to do out there as a point guard.”
I asked a few guys in the locker room about the situation, just to get a gauge on things and most said any frustrations were just with the situation the team is in.
Said Ricky Davis, who is one of Baron’s closer friends on the team, “I think it’s just the way we started. Starting the way we started is bad,” Ricky Davis said.
“When you lose (six) in a row, if anybody is happy they’re in the wrong profession. Everybody’s mad because everybody wants to win. There’s a lot on coaches’ plate, there’s a lot on Baron’s plate. But I think we’re fine.”
So here’s my read on it. Everyone’s frustrated. Everyone is trying to fix it and figure it out.
It’s especially hard on Baron, because he’s not yet playing at the level he knows he can and a big reason for that is because he and the rest of the team are still learning each others moves and Dunleavy’s system.
But Baron has a compelling interest in making this work. This is his hometown. He doesn’t want to get a bad reputation on his home turf. Nor does he want to lose a lot.
But eight games into the season is way to early to start throwing in the towel, pointing fingers or casting blame. If we’re having the same conversation in February, then things might get juicy.