Touted for his ability to develop talent and connect with the younger players, the 2010-2011 season was a mixed bag for VDN. Bledsoe and Aminu regressed in some areas and improved in others, but I thought he mishandled both of their situations to some extent. Bledsoe lost his starting job the night after guiding the Clippers to their first road win of the season. And Aminu didn’t get another opportunity to start over Gomes after those early November and December games, despite outplaying Gomes the whole year. What made matters worse, was when Gomes went down at the end of the season with a knee injury and, instead of inserting Aminu into the starting lineup, VDN played Randy Foye at the starting small forward position.
I interviewed Aminu before Oklahoma City Thunder game on April 2 (the huge comeback game), right after I listened to the VDN presser and found out that Randy Foye was going to start at small forward, not Al-Farouq Aminu.
Aminu was slumped in his seat next to his locker, slowly snacking away at an apple. He answered my questions, just like he always, but he was clearly unhappy. When I asked him about Ryan Gomes being injured he only responded with an apathetic reply.
“Gomes ain’t playing?” He went back to snacking at his apple.
I asked him if he thought he would get more minutes with Gomes out.
“Nah, not really. Never know what the rotations are, sometimes what’s his name plays… Randy Foye. So, being a rookie I just, whenever I’m out there, I’m out there.”
Aminu clearly stressed the disconnect and/or disappointment between him and VDN, because VDN had just told the press that Foye would start, and his references to his teammate, Foye, were clearly dismissive.
Of course, this was right in the midst of Vinny trying to get the younger guys to be more disciplined. In theory, I really like the idea of Vinny holding the guys accountable and I thought his best moment of the whole year was when he properly managed the Baron Weight/Knee crisis at the beginning of the year. But if VDN is going to admonish Aminu (and Bledsoe) for his turnovers and fouls, he should at least take notice that Aminu was, in fact, improving.