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Kelly Dwyer

Dunleavy out for good; Clippers conducting business as usual

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If you expect me to profoundly address the separation of Dun and Clip in any significant way beyond what I wrote last month when Mike Dunleavy "stepped down" as Clipper coach, you're just going to have to be disappointed.

There's very little to report on the analysis side. Dunleavy's moves behind the scenes as Clipper boss made it so Los Angeles' other NBA team made it to the second round of the playoffs in 2006, in what was a glorious run in the most exciting postseason of the decade. He also cleared the deck for the Clippers to enter the 2010 offseason with the ability to offer some superstar a maxed-out contract, alongside the return of a young nucleus including 2009's No. 1 pick and a high lottery pick in 2010.

That's Dunleavy's legacy and it suits him.

Why?

Because he left the Clippers with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft because his overall personnel work wasn't that great. He left the team with a high pick in 2010 and Eric Gordon(notes) (a high-ish pick from 2008) because his personnel work wasn't that great. He left the team with cap room because his team was going nowhere, and in a last-second (intelligent, I should point out) attempt to clear the deck and start over, he had to get rid of the players that he'd hoped would help him compete this season - and not after the 2010 offseason.

He did a good job in trading away Zach Randolph's(notes) contract? Great. Don't trade for Zach Randolph to begin with. Or, at least, get through to him (as coach) in the same way Lionel Hollins did.

He did well to secure the rights to Blake Griffin(notes)? He's supposed to. He's the No. 1 pick. Don't get the No. 1 pick, if you can help it. Earn something in the high 20s, if you wouldn't mind.

You see where I'm going here?

The days of switching in one name for another - one max guy followed by another max guy, with depth taken in from former lottery washouts turned average contributors - are over. If San Antonio's decade-long reign of always being there and last week's sports analytics conference at MIT have taught us anything, it's that you need big brains to do this. You can't take the easy way out.

And big names are the easy way out. They've been that way for decades. Ask any Knicks fan - from the late 1970s.

Dunleavy did some things right, personnel-wise. He knows the game, and it's to his credit that he was the first to encourage that piece of excrement the Clippers call an owner to open up his purse strings. Signed Cuttino Mobley(notes). Matched on Elton Brand(notes). Matched on Corey Maggette(notes). Signed Baron Davis(notes). Signed Tim Thomas(notes). All big names in this league.

But we're beyond that. The Dallas Mavericks are the only team in this league that can afford to take the big-ish name route (Jason Kidd(notes), Shawn Marion(notes), Caron Butler(notes), Thomas, Drew Gooden(notes), etc.) and get away with it because they know what they're doing. Because they have a system in place and a coach that is constantly developing how he does things based on the personnel he's given.

Dunleavy? He never acclimated in Portland, he couldn't handle running both the front office and sideline stuff in Milwaukee, and he flamed out in Los Angeles. I'm not going to tell you that he can't be a success at some level in a front office in the future. This is a long journey, after all, but Dunleavy has had his chances.

The Clippers? They're a bunch of (curse word)s. They kicked this guy to the curb just as he leaves them what will be a little under $17 million in cap room once the team's cap holds and draft picks are sussed out. Did Dunleavy deserve to be sent home, in both positions, long ago? Sure. But only a team like the Clippers could turn this guy into anything somewhat slightly resembling a sympathetic figure.

They hired him to be Mike Dunleavy, he played the Mike Dunleavy role to a 'T' for years and they constantly undermined him at every regard, while pointing to that Clipper-high payroll all along. The owner was always in the locker room, the rumors were always dancing around.

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It was, as it always is with the Los Angeles Clippers, a distasteful era that shouldn't have to be. And though you might not believe it, I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. When I see that Clipper white, red and blue, to this day, I think of the spring of 2006. I think of that team and how much fun it was. Not in relative terms to the squad's past troubles, but in general.

And they blew it. Players, coaches, personnel bosses, ownership. Frittered it away.

So Clipper-y. So damned Clipper-y.

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