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Clippers owner, GM say Vinny Del Negro’s job safe

Mar 27, 2012, 10:28 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

Reports were swirling last week that Vinny Del Negro had lost the locker room and his job was in danger. The Clippers were struggling — they hadn’t played much defense all season and teams had adjusted to their offensive sets.

But the guys who would pull the trigger on a Del Negro firing told T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times they do not plan to do so. That starts at the top with owner Donald Sterling.

“I like him,” said Sterling. “I usually follow the advice of my people, and I think they care for him, like him and want him to succeed. And I think he will.”

Then there is GM Neil Olshey.

“I see absolutely no reason why there would be a coaching change based on where the guys are now,” Olshey said. “I think everybody built us up into something because we got out to such a great start and the minute we didn’t live up to it for a short period of time everyone wanted to act like the Apocalypse was upon us.”

It doesn’t sound like they are making a move this season, although what are they going to say publicly anyway? Votes of confidence like this carry little real weight if a team keeps losing.

The team has an option on Del Negro’s contract for next season, a change this summer has always seemed more likely. Olshey tried to play that off noting that even Thunder coach Scotty Brooks doesn’t have a deal for next season. But his team is playing like a contender — the Clippers have contender talent but are not at that level.

There are coaches out on the market — Nate McMillan, Flip Saunders, and Mike D’Antoni among others — who seem more suited to the task of coaching a contender. Del Negro will get the first shot at it, but there are guys waiting in the wings if he can’t live up to that standard. (Whether Sterling would pay top dollar for an elite coach is another question.)

In the end it comes down to keeping Chris Paul — he is a free agent in the summer of 2013 and has options. The Clippers will offer a max deal but if he doesn’t think the franchise is committed to winning he may well pack up and move on. It’s up to the Clippers to show him that things are different with this franchise now.

  1. asublimeday - Mar 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Chris Paul is out of excuses. There is no reason he can’t put this thing on his shoulders and start winning. For Christs sake if Rose had Blake the bulls would be dominating even harder than they already are.

    • perryplayer1 - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      If Blake could do more than just dunk. Maybe be a more efficient scorer And develop a shop outside 5 feet.

  2. boilerup1869 - Mar 27, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    And as soon as management says your job is safe, you know it isn’t.

  3. limonadamas - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    VDN’s job is only safe (at the moment) because Sterling doesn’t want to keep coaches on the payroll who aren’t coaching the team anymore.

    If VDN’s salary wasn’t guaranteed, I’d wager that Sterling wouldn’t “like him” so much. haha

  4. jattsoorma - Mar 27, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    The kiss of death.

  5. skids003 - Mar 27, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    It’s not really coaching at that level, it’s baby sitting. You get to “coach” as long as you keep the “stars” happy. They are nothing more than a bunch of overpaid idiots.

  6. sabatimus - Mar 27, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Awesome: The “Non-Vote-Of-Confidence Vote of Confidence”!

  7. losangelasbasketball - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    remember clippers fans, no matter how talented the team gets…. the owner is still Donald Sterling….he will find a way to break all your hearts as he has done the past 30 years….

  8. gmsingh - Mar 28, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Of course his job is safe–it’s much easier to find a replacement in the off season.

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