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Report: Clippers consider keeping Vinny Del Negro

May 16, 2013, 10:59 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Vinny Del Negro always had one big advantage in keeping the Clippers head coaching job. And no, it wasn’t that the team won a club record 56 games this season.

It’s that owner Donald Sterling likes him. A lot.

That open secret is worth noting as the fate of Del Negro’s contract is in Sterling’s hands, and while most people around basketball expected the coach to be let go after the Clippers first round exit (because that is what they would do) the Clips may keep him around, reports Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Sources told ESPN.com that there is a level of interest within the organization to extend Del Negro’s contract despite the widespread assumption in league circles that the embattled coach would take the fall for the Clippers’ six-game exit to the Memphis Grizzlies in Round 1….

The longer Sterling has taken to consider the situation, sources say, the more Del Negro’s chances of scoring another short-term contract have been boosted. Sterling has preferred to give short-term contracts to Clippers coaches and front-office executives after he had to pay out the remainder of former coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy‘s five-year, $22 million contract when he fired Dunleavy in 2010.

Two quick thoughts here:

First, what does Chris Paul think? The team’s top priority this summer is keeping the superstar point guard and re-signing him. Which is expected to happen. But he’s had leverage over player/personnel moves with the team lately and this is in that category. If he and Blake Griffin want a new coach, the Clippers get a new coach. Does CP3 think Del Negro can coach this team up to the next level.  (That bothers some people, but the fact is a great player is much harder to find than an average coach.)

Second, Shelburne’s story notes one other NBA team with a coaching vacancy has interest in Del Negro if he is let go. Really? I find that kind of stunning.

  1. kanemoney - May 16, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    He got out coached in the their round 1 loss. Lob City works well in the regular season, but they failed against a team with less overall talent. If you have a roster that deep … Play it.

    • eventhorizon04 - May 16, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      Well, he did, at least for 1 game: The Clippers went 12 deep in their final playoff game.

    • dannymac17 - May 16, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      Outcoached maybe

      but less talent?

      Looks to me the Grizz are in the WCF

      if you are assuming they got there by luck, then you are delusional.

  2. erckle31 - May 16, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Donald Sterling doing what Donald Sterling does best. Mediocrity.

  3. jimsjam33 - May 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Del Negro lost the Memphis series not the team . Here’s why . Chauncey Billups was way past his prime and showed it against the Grizzlies . Del Negro refused to take him out of the lineup for a more mobile Willie Green . Huge mistake . Billups was a drag on the Clippers and a plus for the Grizzles who didn’t have to guard him . Chauncey’s inability to keep up with the Grizzlies guards caused him to foul because was usually out of defensive position .
    Secondly , what was Del Negro thinking with his player rotation ? This was not the regular season . The most players that should have played was nine , not the entire team .
    This season will be remembered as the season the Clippers could have won it all , except for . 1. Blake Griffin turning his ankle in practice, DeAndre Jordan MIA and not hitting free throws .
    The Clips get past the Grizzlies and OKC w/o Westbrook was in the bag. San Antonio could have been had .
    Fire Del Negro !

  4. lakerluver - May 16, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    I don’t understand the criticism Vinny gets. The Clips are obviously a flawed team. Vinny might not be Phil but he’s not as bad of a coach as some make him out to be. He would look like a much better coach if Blake could develop more as a true “go to” player. Or maybe if DeAndre did more than catch the occasional alley oop. I recall Spoelstra was also thought to be a poor coach. That changed when LeBron stopped pooping his shorts in the 4th quarter of games and Miami won a title. Now all of a sudden he’s a top five coach.

  5. eventhorizon04 - May 16, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    The real indictment on Del Negro was his inability to design a coherent defensive system.

    He did have the pieces to design a great system that took advantage of Griffin’s and Jordan’s athleticism at the 4 and 5 positions, as well as the good wing defenders on the team like Butler and Barnes.

    Instead, the Clippers were average defensively, and per Blake Griffin himself, didn’t have any firm defensive principles they followed consistently, and that cost them in the playoffs.

  6. mat9844 - May 16, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    I hope they decide to keep him. I think they need some changes but the coach isn’t one of them.

  7. bifford - May 17, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    The Clippers are still the Clippers. If they did fire him, they’d probably just hire Dunleavy back anyways.

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