Advertisement

The Inside Track | Q & A WITH MIKE DUNLEAVY

Analyzing Clippers Is Dunleavy's Job Now

August 08, 2003|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

After spending a year watching son Mike Jr. play his junior season at Duke and another as a television analyst, Mike Dunleavy returned to the NBA coaching ranks July 11 when he accepted a four-season deal worth $10 million with the Clippers.

Father and son face off for the first time Nov. 14, when the Clippers and Golden State Warriors play at Oakland in the Clippers' fifth game of the season.

That matchup figures to be one of several intriguing aspects to Dunleavy's first season as a coach since the Portland Trail Blazers fired him after the Lakers completed an opening-round sweep of his team in the 2001 playoffs.

Dunleavy, an NBA player in the 1970s and '80s and former coach of the Trail Blazers, Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks, spoke recently about his challenges and the roster he inherited.

*

Q: Were you as pleased, and maybe as surprised, as so many Clipper fans probably were that the team matched the offer sheets to Elton Brand and Corey Maggette?

A: First of all, coming in here, I had been guaranteed the team would keep Elton Brand at all cost. The team was determined to keep its core group. We need to build now for our future because we lost 40% of our starting lineup [with the departure of Andre Miller to Denver and Michael Olowokandi to Minnesota].

*

Q: What's your opinion of Brand and his value to the team?

A: You have a guy in Elton Brand who puts up 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] every night. He's going to be one of the top power forwards in the NBA. I've followed his career since his days at Duke. I love his work ethic and who he is. He's the first piece of the puzzle I had to have here.

*

Q: Maggette was among the league's most improved players last season. Can that improvement continue to the point that he's an All-Star caliber player?

A: Corey's an extremely hard worker, a great athlete. He improved, but he needs to continue to improve. I thought he did a great job [last season] of attacking the rim. We had the opportunity to match [the offer from Utah] and we did. Going forward, he's going to be a great guy to have as part of our team.

*

Q: Are you disappointed you won't have a chance to work with Olowokandi?

A: He was unrestricted and we didn't have any leverage to keep him. I would have liked the opportunity to coach him. We did make a run at him. He hadn't yet signed with Minnesota when I got here.

*

Q: Miller's performance had a lot of people puzzled last season [when he went from a league-best average of 10.9 assists with Cleveland in 2001-02 to 6.7 with the Clippers]. Were you surprised by what happened to him here?

A: He's a better player than he showed last year. I don't know what he was going through, but he didn't play like Andre Miller. I'm sure he'll pick it up again.

*

Q: Who will replace Miller at the point? Are you content with Keyon Dooling and Marko Jaric or will the team need to sign a veteran free agent?

A: I don't know at this point. I'm going to have to watch some guys play. I want to see Keyon. Your choices are a young guy that you take a flier on or a veteran. I'm not sure of the direction we want to go.

*

Q: What are the important traits you would like in a point guard? And how do they translate into what you like to do in your offensive style of play?

A: I like to push the ball. I like to advance it. I also run a lot of pick-and-roll for multiple players. I need a point guard who can make good decisions.... I've studied a lot of film and there are certain guys I know and certain guys I don't know. It won't be until [the opening of training camp in] September, when we get to work individually with them, that we'll get a better feel for the guys.

*

Q: One guy we haven't talked about yet is Lamar Odom [who recently turned down the Clippers' three-season, $24-million contract offer and has yet to receive an expected larger offer from the Miami Heat]. What's your view of him and his situation?

A: I sat down with Lamar and spent a couple of hours with him [recently]. He's a very talented player and I'm expecting to have him back. I'm going to push him to be a much better player. He can play four positions and his versatility gives me so many different options. We're going to tap into it more than last year. With Andre gone, we're going to use him as a point guard or a point forward, taking advantage of his ability there.

*

Q: You've been out of coaching for two years. Can you wait until camp opens [Sept. 27 at Palm Desert]?

A: I'm looking forward to the point in September when we start working with the guys. Right now, we're trying to figure out how to round out the roster and there are a few other things coming up [including naming his staff]. My first year away was good. I got a chance to see my son play his last year at Duke. I was doing some TV last year and got pretty antsy. I had opportunities to coach again. It was just a matter of when and which team. I love L.A. I like the young talent here, but we had to iron out some things, particularly how I could be sure the players were going to be here.

*

Q: The Lakers have pretty much ruled the town since forever. Do you see a day in the not-too-distant future when there is a true rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers?

A: The Lakers have been the best team in the West for years now. They're tough to beat. I was fortunate in Portland that at least I knew what I needed to do to beat them, which was half the battle. I hope so [that the teams become rivals]. People have projected the Lakers to win it all with the additions of [Gary] Payton and [Karl] Malone while we've lost 40% of our starting lineup. But we've kept our core group and that's an indication of where we're headed.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|