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Clippers let go of Vinny Del Negro as coach

May 21, 2013, 3:07 PM EDT

Vinny Del Negro AP

Clippers owner Donald Sterling created a little stir when he was near the court watching Game 1 between the Spurs and Grizzlies Sunday — he didn’t bother to attend all of his own team’s playoff games, why was he suddenly at this one? Was he scouting potential coaches such as the Grizzlies Lionel Hollins or the Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer? Did this mean Vinny Del Negro was in trouble?


The Clippers have let go of coach Vinny Del Negro. It was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The Clippers have since confirmed that. Del Negro’s contract was set to expire, the Clippers will not offer him a new one.

And as we all expected, what free agent to be Chris Paul wanted  played a hand in this, Wojnarowski said.

Despite considerable success and progress in his two seasons as coach, Del Negro was unable to withstand a first-round Western Conference loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and a free agent-to-be superstar, Chris Paul, who wanted a different coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Del Negro did not have a contract beyond this season.

The Clippers need to do whatever they have to do to keep CP3. Coaches can be replaced, elite talent is much harder to find. You don’t have to like it but it is the way of the world.

This opens up the most attractive coaching position in the NBA — a coach can over a team on the verge of competing for a title. A team with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and talented role players such as Jamal Crawford. While Stan Van Gundy said he was sitting this year  out this is the kind of job that might change his mind. A lot of top coaches would like it — but will Sterling pay the top dollar to get one of them? You know Chris Paul will have a say in this decision (he likes Warriors top assistant Mike Malone, too).

This isn’t a huge surprise — while the Clippers won 56 games and their first ever division title, they disappointed in the playoffs and there was a sense around the league (and in some parts of the Clippers hierarchy) that they really accomplished all that in spite of Del Negro, not because of him. The one thing Del Negro had in his corner is that Sterling liked him, but in the end that wasn’t enough.

Del Negro ran pretty basic offensive sets with the Clippers — which if you have Paul running the show is not a bad call. Defensively the Clippers threw a variety of different looks at teams, but they kind of were the jack-of-all-trades and the masters of none. Del Negro and staff had some nice plays and designs set up for the start of their playoff series against the Grizzlies, but when Hollins made adjustments by Game 3 there were no good counters from the Clippers. Then when Griffin got hurt and was slowed the series was all but over.

Reportedly there was one team with an open coaching position interested in interviewing Del Negro. Which means there is one team out there willing to see how angry they can make their fan base.

  1. zacksdad - May 21, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    “This opens up the most attractive coaching position in the NBA”

    Working for Sterling is the “most” attractive coaching position in the NBA.

    Kurt what are you smoking?

  2. telergy - May 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Theres no coach out there they could replace him with thats better. Probably a dumb move. No Phil isn’t coaching the Clips… any replacement is a step down.

    • zacksdad - May 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      1. Lionel Hollins
      2. Jerry Sloan
      3. Brian Shaw
      4. Byron Scott

    • spthegr8 - May 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Im still trying too figure out what took them so long?? Vinny SUCKS!!!!

      • telergy - May 21, 2013 at 6:46 PM

        lmao jerry sloan coaching the clippers? hahahah…wishful thinking. thats not a realistic possibility. byron scott is a lateral move. scott isnt much better than del negro. byron scott is a better coach than mike brown and got fired. brian shaw is unproven and not a good fit for his first gig. Lionel hollins isnt living grizz

        byron scott winning % = 44%
        but but..byron scotts win % skewed by Cavs no lebron
        49% without lebron

        del negro winning % = 53%

      • zacksdad - May 21, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        Byron Scott’s Playoff % = 58%
        Vinny Del Negro Playoff % = 35%


    • fanofevilempire - May 21, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      has Phil turned down an interview?
      why would Phil have to listen to Jeannie and not take the Clip job
      if he isn’t the coach of the Lakers?

      • telergy - May 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        You talkin bout when Scott had Jason Kidd , Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles and Keith Van Horn in their prime?

        ….Real impressive … (smh)

        Hes still living his hype off that success. Hes a mediocre coach.

      • telergy - May 21, 2013 at 8:05 PM

        Look, by no means do I think Del Negro is a great coach. The Clippers offense sucks 75% of the time and Paul ends up having to do all the work. His playcalling and decision making in critical mins are suspect too.

        However, theres no coach out there that has a realistic chance to be the coach that would be an improvement.

    • redbaronx - May 22, 2013 at 12:49 AM

      Dumb move??? @ telergy. Are you kidding me? I could name half a dozen coaches that would be better than Vinny. What pot are you smoking? Here’s a list, all of whom would be upgrades. ** Stars indicate guys who could probably turn this into a championship caliber team:

      1) Any assistant on the San Antonio staff
      2) Alvin Gentry
      3) Stan Van Gundy **
      4) Mike Fratello **
      5) Scott Skiles (highly underrated coach. Just look at what he did pre-Derrick Rose in 2006 and the great job he did getting the 2010 Bucks to the playoffs a couple of years ago with a loser roster in Milwaukee)
      6) Phil Jackson ** (You’re right. He wouldn’t coach the Clippers, but for the sake of this argument of coaches better than Vinny…..)
      7) Jerry Sloan ** (Jerry would actually be an excellent fit with his pick and roll system, and I think Chris Paul would love him)
      8) Nate McMillan ** He’s ready to bust out. He coached some very good Sonics teams in 2001 and the Northwest division title in 2005 (again without a whole lot of talent) and Portland teams with a lot of roster upheaval. Nate is a very good coach. He would be a VERY smart choice I think. He’s got the basketball IQ and he relates to players as a former player.
      9) Flip Saunders – Questionable on the leadership side I think (not unlike Larry Brown whom he replaced in Detroit), but an excellent X’s and O’s coach who has had some playoff successes with the T-Wolves in the Garnett years and with the Pistons after Larry Brown. He’s proven.
      10) Bob Hill – His work at Indiana and at San Antonio in the 90’s speaks for itself. He’s a good coach.
      11) Avery Johnson – I have a feeling he’s a better coach than he gets credit for. He took Dallas to their first finals in only his second year, and did a decent job with the Nets who have a deeply flawed roster. He wins Coach of the month in October and November 2012, has a bad December and the Nets fired him. There’s a reason the Nets are a consistently losing organization….
      12) Sam Cassell – I’m putting him on this list as an unknown coaching X factor. Sam is highly motivated, brings a lot of energy, has the knowledge of a player, and knows his stuff. He reminds me a lot of Mark Jackson. I think someone just needs to give the guy a chance to promote him from Wizards assistant to full time coach.

      So there you have it. All of these would be better than Vinny. Easy. Vinny was questioned from DAY 1. No one (seriously) thought he could handle the job. It was questionable then, and it is even more so now. He needs more work as an assistant, and lets face it, not everyone is cut out to be a head coach. My top picks on this list would be Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan, and Sam Cassell. All guard oriented guys who know how to run a team. I would be going for Nate McMillan if I were on the Clippers brass. He’s younger than Sloan, has a good track record, and his hoops IQ is high.

  3. readysethike - May 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    quick call jerry sloan

    • money2long - May 21, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      he does have a history with PG/PF tandems

  4. comeonnowguys - May 21, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    So what’s the next team with young superstars that VDN will magically luck into?

    • 00maltliquor - May 22, 2013 at 2:06 AM

      Upon reading that there may be another team out there willing to talk to him, one team immediately came to mind……Milwaukee.

  5. reasonablemindsays - May 21, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    The day he was hired, everyone in the NBA world began a countdown for the day this buffoon would be fired.

    I wouldn’t want this clown coaching my little girl’s rec ball team, let alone an NBA team.

  6. doubledown44 - May 21, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Byron Scott as a prime contender. He has an excellent relationship with Chris Paul.

  7. ravensallday2012 - May 21, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Phil Jackson will be there just to show up the lakers for not hiring him

    • money2long - May 21, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      his woman aint letting that happen. sorry.

      • dannymac17 - May 21, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        i am almost positive she doesnt wear the pants in that relationship.

  8. bucrightoff - May 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Jerry Sloan makes too much sense.

    • zacksdad - May 21, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      And he also would make too much cents ($$) for Donald Sterling (Second worse owner in LA).

      Jimmie, time to change and follow suit. Even Sterling knew when to fire his coach. Now it is your move. And if you are not careful, Phil will go across the hall and embarrass you more by winning a Championship for the Clippers.

  9. jimsjam33 - May 21, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Good move Clippers. Let’s go after Byron Scott .

  10. adoombray - May 21, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    I run better offenses in video games drunk at 2 AM than Del Negro ever ran in crunch time. You just couldn’t watch any Clippers game without thinking to yourself “wow this coach is bad”. I’m glad Sterling got out of his own way, CP3 is just too good to be wasted like that.

    • comeonnowguys - May 22, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      Just wait until the new coach calls a timeout at the proper time. The little things are mindblowing.

  11. decimusprime - May 21, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    FINALLY! Now i know he didn’t want to coach any team…that had a vacancy, but this team didn’t have one at the time. SVG is the perfect coach for the Clip. Period. Sloan is way old school and would not fit with this team of stars with huge egos all around. SVG is a players coach who knows how to win. Even D-ho wants him back as his coach. Either way im glad that Vinny is gone.

  12. lemfax - May 21, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Clippers is too fast for his system while lakers is too slow for d’antoni style of coaching. The best move is to trade/swap the two coaches for the benefits of both team

  13. lemfax - May 21, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Clippers is too fast for his system while lakers is too slow for d’antoni style of coaching. The best move is to trade/swap the two coaches for the benefits of both team.

    • mazblast - May 21, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      Saying it twice doesn’t make it so, particularly when your grammar is that atrocious.

      • adoombray - May 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        This is the internet not an English class. You clearly understood what he was saying. Correcting people online makes you look even worse than the guy who is probably tapping out the reply on a cell phone. Get over yourself professor.

  14. sgtr0c - May 21, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    If elite talent is hard to get, and coaches are replaceable compared to elite talent, why bother having a coach? If your players can get you replaced, just kinda seems kinda silly to pretend that they have any bearing on the talent. Maybe they should just be called “media consultants”.

  15. backdoc2013 - May 21, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Good Luck Vinny…The Clippers all stood up for you last year……General Manager CP3 will get the best coach for his team…anybody like Doug Collins ?

  16. fearthehoody - May 21, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Oh joy! A glorious day! BTW, I was only one saying Byron Scott will be the next Clipps coach weeks ago

  17. coryfor3 - May 21, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Sterling must have found a cheaper option

  18. navondusandau - May 21, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    The compulsary trite argument about “coaches don’t matter as much as players” really annoys me. let’s look at the list of coaches who’ve won 3 or more titles:

    Phil Jackson
    Red Auerbach
    John Kundla
    Pat Riley
    Greg Popovich

    Pretty short list right? coincidence these are/were all amazing coaches?

    If the coach doesn’t matter, why are championships dominated by really good coaches?

    • Kurt Helin - May 26, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Coincidence they all had superstar players on their teams?

    • redbaronx - May 28, 2013 at 2:59 AM

      You could also put Chuck Daly on that list even though he didn’t win three. If it wasn’t for Isaiah Thomas rolling his ankle in the 1988 Lakers vs. Detroit series, we might be talking about Chuck Daly having three rings instead of two.

  19. glink123 - May 21, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    I think after watching the success of Mark Jackson in Golden State, don’t be surprised to see some new blood brought into the league. Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr, Bruce Bowen… someone is going to take a flyer. you just can’t keep running these retreads out year after year, like Van Gundy, Avery Johnson, PJ Carlisemo, etc.

  20. badintent - May 22, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    It about the beaches , A-list front row, the dancers, the banners, the …..uh -oh. Had a hot Laker Flash. Back to reality, The Donald.. no NOT that Donald.. Sterling and his trailer park budget..
    The only thing I can hang on Vinny is that he allowed CP3 to run the team on the court , he just made the starting line up and put Jamal in when needed. So we have to cut CP3 too, Oh well. Back to those Clippers we know and dislike for many,many years

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