Clippers' Hughes critiques Kaman, Davis

LOS ANGELES -- Kim Hughes may or may not be back on the Clippers' bench next season, but he's willing to offer a bit of constructive criticism to the team's top two players.

Though he said he "loves Chris" Kaman and is proud of the center's development, he doesn't believe the Clippers can win an NBA championship with him as their main offensive option, as he was this season.

"You probably wouldn't win a championship with him as the first offensive option," Hughes said. "He doesn't recognize doubles enough, if he was the second [option] and guys weren't doubling as much, I think he'd probably be more effective. He'd probably shoot around 54, 55 percent.

"Chris I'm sure enjoyed scoring 20 points a game and had a great year, but I think the team would be more effective if when he's doubled he passes out to perimeter players and makes them better shooters, because clearly we need help with shooting, and he can help them out.

"I would prefer if he averaged 1.5 more rebounds per game and 2.5 fewer points."

Kaman led the team in scoring 18.5 points a game and made his first All-Star team but also led the team in turnovers, with 223 in 76 games.

Last week, point guard Baron Davis said he has often felt frustrated in the Clippers' system and hoped he'd be given a more prominent leadership role next season.

"I've just been kind of waiting patiently. Last year was kind of [Mike] Dunleavy's thing. This year it's kind of Kaman's team," Davis said last week. "So hopefully next year they'll give me a chance to put my full thing on display."

Hughes said he'd noticed Davis playing better and more freely since he took over as coach in early February, but that the point guard still has "more work to do."

"I don't know what limited him, and really I don't care because really that's between he and Mike [Dunleavy]," Hughes said. "He's tried to be a leader the last 40 percent of the year, I'd concur with that.

"But he still has more work to do if he truly wants to be in a running team, and be a transition team, like he did in Golden State, that means he's got to get his body weight down to around 205. If he does that next year, that's showing me that he does want to be a leader and play that way next year."

Hughes said he would like to return to the Clippers next season and have a chance to install his systems in training camp and see them play out over the course of a season.

Privately, Clippers officials say a decision on who will coach the team next season is not at the top of the priority list and might even wait until after the draft in late June and the beginning of free agency on July 1.

Hughes said he agreed with the logic of trading Marcus Camby, Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair at the trade deadline to help clear space under the salary cap to make a run at an elite free agent this summer.

"Sometimes it's worth it to hit the home run," Hughes said. "Doug Moe always felt that, if you're playing for 10th place, why not trade and trade and try to get to the playoffs.

"I really think Blake [Griffin] will be back and strong and this team should be really good."

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.