Konstantin Levin – Tolstoy's conscientious reserved farmer in Anna Karenina – is a hard-working dude, toiling on the steppe, sowing his seeds both figuratively and literally. Even though it's largely thankless, Levin's backbreaking work offers him profound satisfaction.  And Levin, forever the existentialist, finds that labor is the buffer between him and death.  It's the thing in life that really gives him meaning. 

 

So far as the peasants whom he works with, Levin values their labor, but wants to see them get passionate about their work, to toil as a collective entity.  In basketball terms, to work as a team and, in the language of Larry Brown, to play the right way.  But most important, Levin saw himself as one of them.  He was a players' coach. 

So there's my wretched, reductive portrait of one of Russian literature's most complex characters.  But with Mike Dunleavy on the verge of getting his long-sought extension as the Clippers depart for Russia…well…I couldn't resist. 

 

The Los Angeles Times reports today that the Clippers and Dunleavy are close to getting the deal done:

[Andy] Roeser and Dunleavy's agent, Warren LeGarie, made little progress in previous talks. Dunleavy was believed to be seeking a four-year extension for about $6 million a season, sources said, but the team wasn't in that neighborhood. It seems, however, the Clippers are willing to elevate Dunleavy among the game's highest-paid coaches, which could be accomplished with a salary in the $4.5-million range.  

Clipperblog likes Dunleavy and recognizes him to be a leader that inspires his squad.  Most of the team seems to like him.  Like a lot of successful coaches, Dunleavy was a productive grunt whose love for the game and work ethic far exceeded his talents. 

 

Earlier in the off-season, Clipperblog insisted that it wasn't totally sold on Dunleavy as the guy who would lead the Clippers to the Promised Land.  CB suggested that rather than throwing a wad of money at Dunleavy, the organization would be better served by letting him play out his contract year, then evaluating his work.  If the Clips take a step forward – and the bar is high – then they should bring him back.  But what if the Clips go 44-38, get the (7) seed, and get bounced by Phoenix in six games?  And what if the front office finds it necessary to let Kaman walk and decides that, with the absence of a true shooter, they can't move forward despite the team's generally positive chemistry?  More pointedly, what if Dunleavy lacks the creativity – something we saw at times last season – to really get the job done.  Then what?   

 

$4.5M/per isn't pocket change, but it isn't exorbitant either.  With the deal imminent, the conversation is pretty much over. 

But now, it's on.  The guy in the periwinkle suit is on the spot.  And like Tolstoy's practical materialist, Konstatin Levin, Dunleavy's schemes better work -- for his own salvation.