Can Del Negro handle pressure of leading revamped Clippers?

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Can Del Negro handle pressure of leading revamped Clippers?

With the acquisition of superstar point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers are the talk of the NBA these days. With the likes of Paul, reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin, promising young center DeAndre Jordan, free-agent signee Caron Butler, veteran Chauncey Billups and bench depth highlighted by scoring point guard Mo Williams, the "other" team in the City of Angels has a chance to not only make some noise this season, but even surpass their Staples Center co-resident, the Lakers.

For all of the pieces the team has, however, their is one perceived weakness: Vinny Del Negro. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke recently wrote an excellent piece about the pressure facing the Clippers head coach.

Del Negro is obviously a familiar name to Chicagoans from his stint stalking the Bulls sidelines. In his two seasons in the Windy City, the Bulls finished with identical 41-41 records and first-round playoff exits.

Aside from the drama that surrounded his final days in Chicago, Del Negro was a much-maligned figure locally, as he was viewed as a coach incapable of taking the team to the next level, something magnified by Tom Thibodeau's success in his first season. Thibodeau also had more talent to work with, but the fact that Del Negro, at the least, didn't hinder the development of Derrick Rose, among others, has to be noted.

Subsequently hired by the Clippers the summer following his dismissal, Del Negro seemed to be entering a situation in which there were few expectations for a perennially-losing franchise, but a rough start to last season immediately turned up the heat and although his young squad improved as the season went on -- even beating the Bulls upon his return to Chicago -- an early-season pregame press conference in L.A. when the Bulls were in town, in which local writers aggressively questioned his competence as a coach, showed it wasn't all smooth sailing. But that was then and this is now.

Del Negro, equipped with a roster that's the envy of the majority of the league, has to oversee a successful campaign in the last year of his contract. While he's often quietly lauded for giving young players the room to improve, this season can't simply be a care-taking effort, as the stakes are just too high, with Paul only committed to the Clippers for two seasons, Billups and Butler likely on the downsides of their careers, the organization committing to Jordan with a four-year extension and Griffin's eventual free agency looming, not to mention trading assets like up-and-coming shooting guard Eric Gordon, former All-Star center Chris Kaman, second-year small forward and 2010 lottery pick Al-Farouq Aminu and perhaps most importantly, the Timberwolves' 2012 first-round draft choice (likely to be a fairly high selection in a loaded draft class) to the Hornets in exchange for Paul.

Can Del Negro surpass expectations for his own performance to help meet expectations for the team, preserving his own coaching shelf life in the process? What do you think?

How many more championships does LeBron James have to win to be in the conversation with Michael Jordan?

How many more championships does LeBron James have to win to be in the conversation with Michael Jordan?

LeBron James has made a ridiculous seven straight NBA Finals, putting him (again) at the center of the 'Greatest Player of All-Time' debate. 

Ahead of his third straight championship series against the Golden State Warriors, James discussed how his streak will shape his place among the greats.  

"I think it's gonna be great for my legacy," James said to reporters. "Once I'm done playing the game, when we look back on the game, and we say, 'Oh, this guy went to three straight finals, four straight finals, five, six, whatever, seven.' I think it's great to be talked about, to see what I've been able to accomplish as an individual. You talk about longevity and being able to just play at a high level for a long period of time, and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do that." 

The SportsTalk Live panel discussed his comments and debated how many more rings The King would need to be in the conversation with Michael Jordan. 

Here's what each had to say: 

CSN's Mark Schanowski

"He would have to win three to reach Jordan's six just to be in the conversation. All those losses in the finals are obviously going to have an impact, so we'll give LeBron the sportsmanship ribbon. Michael just collects rings." 

WGN Radio's Mark Carman

"I would say 100. I'm not giving that up ever. Yes, I am extremely biased. But listen, this is an incredible opportunity for him. You've got a phenomenal Warriors team. You've got, for whatever reason, Las Vegas is making Cleveland a huge underdog. This is a great chance for him" 

Bleacher Report's Seth Gruen 

"To me, it's not a number. To me, he's gotta stop talking like that because that's loser talk. And I don't mean to come off with this sort of meatballish take, but the reality is you would have never heard Michael Jordan say that. And that's why Lebron gets so much flack in the conversation comparing the two because he's in the business of raising trophies, not second place." 

Chicago Tribune's Chris Hine 

"I think when it comes to Jordan, as somebody who didn't grow up in Chicago, I want him to get closer to six titles because I wanna see this town explode over the debate between LeBron and Jordan. I think to have a legitimate case, though, and to at least put it in people's mind that he's better than Jordan, he's got to at least get to six."  

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.