Kings not keeping assistant coaches Alex English, Jim Eyen and Clifford Ray. Bobby Jackson moving to another role.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 5, 2013
If we were to discuss Danny Ainge's mistakes, I'd put letting Clifford Ray go right at the top. Clifford Ray is one of the best big man coaches in the NBA. Dwight Howard and his dad credit Cliff with Dwight's development when he was a rookie with the Magic. When you watch classic Celtics' games from the 80's and see Parish dominate in the middle, think Clifford Ray. Parish credited Clifford Ray with helping him to develop his game when they were teammates on Golden State. He has succeeded everywhere he has been and the emergence of Kendrick Perkins as a defensive force in the middle along with Al Jefferson's emergence as a low post presence are largely due to their work with Clifford Ray over their first few seasons.
As an assistant coach who specializes in teaching big men, Ray has had wonderful results wherever he has worked. If you follow his career, teams where he has been an assistant have seen amazing improvement in rebounding numbers. That's a huge fact since as the old adage goes "offense sells tickets, defense wins games and rebounding wins championships. He has molded a long list of players including P.J. Brown, Adonal Foyle, Roy Tarpley, Erick Dampier, and Nazr Mohammed.
In his first year as a part-time coach in Dallas, the Mavericks led the league in rebounding. When Ray was an assistant in New Jersey in 1995-96, the Nets led the league in rebounding. In Ray's two years at Golden State (2000-01 and '01-02), the Warriors ranked first and second in rebounding. In Cleveland, Ray had the Cavs up to second in the league in rebounding. The Magic, who ranked 23rd in rebounding the season before Ray arrived, ranked second the following year under his tutelage.
In spite of Ray's success with the Celtics' bigs, they treated him pretty shabbily at the end. Peter Vescey reported that Cliff had contracted a MRSA infection in his foot from the contaminated Celtics' locker room and that Danny pressured him to sign an agreement to receive $100,000 to go away quietly. The Celtics had just hired Lawrence Frank to replace Tom Thibodeau, and Frank wanted to bring his big man coach, Roy Rogers, with him. I should add that Roy Rogers is not even in the same league as Clifford Ray.
Cliff has worked the last couple of years with the Kings and with the new owners and the new direction, I would imagine that they are starting fresh with a new coaching staff. They still have DeMarcus Cousins though and if anyone can get through to him, Cliff can. Back to the Celtics. The Celtics have Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger, both of whom can use a good big man coach. They also may pick up another one in the draft, although rumors are leaning more toward a point guard. But the fact is that the Celtics no longer have a good big man coach, unless you count KG as being the big man coach. But, he's more like a mentor. I say that Danny needs to eat some crow and bring back Clifford Ray. It might be his best move this off season.
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