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Clippers’ owner basically admits Del Negro let go to keep Chris Paul happy

May 22, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to be CP3 (who had a lot of influence over the Clips free agent moves last summer, too).

Don’t believe me? Ask Sterling.

Which is what T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times did, and Sterling’s answer was telling.

“The coach is a wonderful man, and I’m sad about the whole thing,” Sterling said.

“Was this done,” I asked, “just to hang on to Chris Paul?”

“I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true,” Sterling said. “So I’d rather not say anything. But you know, the coach did a really good job. I think he did. And I liked working with him. There are just factors that make life very complicated and very challenging.”

It’s easy to say the Clippers had the most success in their franchise history — last year making the second round of the playoffs, this season winning 56 games and the team’s first-ever Pacific Division title. Why mess with that?

But the Clippers won all those games not because of Del Negro but because Paul and Blake Griffin are the best players the Clippers have ever had. Talent wins in the NBA. Del Negro ran rather simplistic offensive sets and let Paul be the Peyton Manning kind of signal caller, which was smart. But Del Negro couldn’t get them farther — up against Memphis when the Clips needed more than just talent, when they needed adjustments and sets that played to their advantages the Clips had nothing to go to.

If 50-something wins and a few playoffs wins is enough for you, so be it. It wasn’t for Chris Paul.

And that will be good for the organization… if they make a smart hire now. You can bet CP3 will have influence in this choice as well.

  1. RavenzGunnerz - May 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    All interested parties should send their resumes to Chris Paul & Dwight Howard.

    We thank you for your interest in the Clippers coaching job, but only qualified candidate will be contacted for a job interview.

    • fanofevilempire - May 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM

      cp3 is arguably the best point guard in the nba, he has the ball all
      the time and he has to have the coach draw up a play.
      I wish them luck and wait til Sterling let’s the role players walk, he
      is known to be rather cheap,

      • senioreditor2 - May 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        and wait until he has to pay tax penalties………..chris is going to be VERY unhappy

      • musclemilk805 - May 22, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        I’d take Rondo anyday. Better passer, driver, rebounder, and defensive player. Can guard 1 and 2’s. Mr Triple Double. He doesn’t have LOB city in Boston. The only things CP3 has on Rondo is he has a better, younger group of players around him, and he’s a better jump shooter..that’s it

        Tony Parker is better vs CP3

    • wkl21 - May 25, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      Dwight Howard? Clippers don’t need the Dwightmare.

  2. eureca323 - May 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    So you fire a coach to make CP3 happy? Then you don’t protect CP3 in the media about the situation? I don’t think that is gonna make him happy. Donald its a pretty common practice for owners to lie to the media to protect their star players maybe try it some time.

    • hertzy23 - May 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Agreed. Stars are responsible for the firing of coaches all the time, but that’s a low move by Sterling to throw Paul under the bus like that. You’re the GM, it makes you look powerless and a coward for saying that.

    • therealhtj - May 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      Too bad the interviewer didn’t ask Sterling how he plans to gut the team once he gets CP3 signed. I’d have loved to hear an honest answer to that.

    • abasketballthing - May 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      If he doesn’t like lying(which I find odd considering who he is), he can simply not answer the question. He could say something like “The move was necessary for the team to continue to improve and each the goal of winning a championship”, and refuse to give further comment.

    • grieve98674 - May 24, 2013 at 3:46 AM

      Watching the playoffs, it was pretty obvious Del Negro was a horrible coach.

  3. waynegretsky77 - May 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    he is a coach kiler like dwight howard. got byron scott, now vinny fired.Sometimes its players fault not coach. whose fault is it that he is an overrated princess and never been outta second round. he would rather be on the kardashians show than work on his game.

    • paleihe - May 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      Did it ever occur to you that they may not be good coaches?

      • deavn - May 22, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Did it ever occur to you that maybe the team just isn’t getting the job done?

      • paleihe - May 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        So you’re saying that a team should win regardless of the incompetence of their head coach?

    • pudgalvin - May 22, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      You might be right, but Del Negro is not a good coach. He’s cranky with the media, stubborn towards the fans, and his players don’t particularly like him. That’s on top of his high school offensive sets and average defensive coaching. When Thibs took over for him in Chicago, he took a similar roster from back to back 41 win seasons to back to back 60 win seasons (figuring in the lockout). Some of that was the development of Rose, most of that was Thibs is a much better coach.

      Besides, would you rather have a great player or an average coach?

      • stayhigh_247 - May 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        agreed..

      • musclemilk805 - May 22, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        What does being cranky with the media, stubborn towards fans have to do with coaching basketball?

        He led them to the best season in NBA Clipper Franchise History!!!!

      • Kurt Helin - May 22, 2013 at 8:30 PM

        Actually, he’s not that stubborn with the media. He’s a good guy, a coach who brought real optimism to the team (which was a nice change from Dunleavy). The media didn’t fire him.

      • pudgalvin - May 22, 2013 at 10:22 PM

        I should have said he was cranky withe the.media in Chicago. Didn’t follow him that closely in la, but no one liked him here. Those extras I listed don’t make or break you as a coach, but they can build up good will among a lot of people that can make it harder for an owner to fire you, especially after a historically good season. Is anyone in la really sad to see him go?

    • hertzy23 - May 22, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Do people forget when Byron Scott’s Hornets lost by over 50 w/ Paul in a playoff game?

    • wkl21 - May 25, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Howard got Stan Van Gundy fired and then left anyway.

  4. cakemixa - May 22, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Can’t say I blame him, I mean GM Chris Paul’s personnel decisions have helped him advance so far in the post season in his career… oh wait…

  5. rj2323 - May 22, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Here comes Byron Scott

    • nolahxc - May 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      I would not be shocked.

    • fanofevilempire - May 22, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      you think Byron will work for cp3 again?

  6. khmerson562 - May 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Player president

  7. truthplainandsimple - May 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    …why is everyone acting like the Bulls couldn’t wait to dump Del Negro? Then everyone was PERPLEXED when the Clippers signed him? This is the same coach admitted his offensive game plan was…”Chris Paul”. He’s just not a good coach. As far as CP3 only making it out of the first round once, did you see the teams he was on?????? If not, go back and look. It was a wonder he got those teams to the playoffs. Prior to LA, the best player Paul ever played with was between Tyson Chandler/David West and this was BEFORE Chandler was the defensive farce–I mean force that he is now.

    • musclemilk805 - May 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      Yep, leading the Clippers to their best season in franchise history is not a good coach

  8. sellahh - May 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    CP3 is overrated.

    • bnally62191 - May 22, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      Taking a bum Hornets team to the playoffs multiple times is not overrated.
      Giving the Clippers the greatest season in their franchise history is not overrated.
      Doing almost 1,000 assists in a season is not overrated.
      Averaging a double double for each season is not overrated.
      Being #1 in steals every single season is not overrated.

      In other words, you’re very, very, very wrong.

      Dwayne Wade, on the other hand, IS overrated.

      • wkl21 - May 25, 2013 at 10:22 PM

        and he sometimes wears woman’s clothes.

        http://www.businessinsider.com/dwyane-wade-wore-a-polka-dot-suit-with-capris-to-tonights-playoff-game-2013-5

  9. asimonetti88 - May 22, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Donald Sterling is probably the only person I would wish TJ Simers on.

  10. zickhead - May 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    All teams getting rid of coaches just to please the players is pretty over rated. Yes, it has worked in some cases but look at some of the more recent ones where a coach is fired or leaves so the team can please a player and that team ends up sucking.

    Dwight Howard – Stan Van Gundy

    Lebron James – Mike Brown

    Deron Williams – Jerry Sloan

    • paleihe - May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Jerry Sloan quit, he wasn’t let go.

      • paleihe - May 22, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        People give a thumbs down without knowing anything:

        http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=6109031
        Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan resigns
        Updated: February 11, 2011, 12:26 PM ET
        ESPN.com news services
        SALT LAKE CITY — Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan stepped down Thursday after 23 seasons and 1,127 wins at the helm of the Utah Jazz, saying he simply ran out of energy to coach anymore.

      • bnally62191 - May 22, 2013 at 8:23 PM

        Why do you think he “resigned” genius?

  11. waynegretsky77 - May 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    mario chambers better than chris paul. more rings, two finals appearances vs none for paul

    • paleihe - May 22, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      You better believe it!

      And Jack Haley is better than Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing combined! Haley won a championship in 96 and Malone and Ewing haven’t won jack!

    • dannymac17 - May 22, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      who the hell is mario chambers

    • reastnt - May 22, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      By that logic, Derek Fisher is the best point guard in the NBA. Silly.

      • sellahh - May 22, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        Isn’t he?

      • fanofevilempire - May 22, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        Fish is like 88 years old

      • senioreditor2 - May 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        Robert Horry is second to Bill Russell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • badintent - May 23, 2013 at 2:11 AM

        And Rick Barry won two scoring titles in both the NBA and the NBA, so he ‘s better than MJ

    • bnally62191 - May 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      Mario Chalmers is the worst starting point guard in the NBA. There literally isn’t a starting point guard that is worse than him. I am praying to god you are joking.

      • 00maltliquor - May 23, 2013 at 3:12 AM

        Mike James, DAL
        Kirk Hinrich, CHI (Yeah, I know, but untill he comes back, Rose doesn’t count)
        ………….
        ………….
        ………….holy crap, you weren’t that far off. I just went down the list of NBA teams, sure I was gonna have at least 5-10 named off at least. Those two above are the only ones I’d rather not have over Chalmers out of all the starters in the L at that position.

        *sidenote…there are a ton of nice PG’s out there. Seems like every team has one…but the Lakers! Ugh. Nash is kind of toast now, sadly.

  12. malibudave66 - May 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    I would love to what Phil Jackson could do with this group of talented players! I would be fun!!

    • musclemilk805 - May 22, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Sorry, he already said NO

  13. newyorkfootballjets - May 22, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Cp3 to new york asap

  14. musclemilk805 - May 22, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Greatest Season IN CLIPPER NBA HISTORY!!!!…oh yeah, FIRE the coach

    I guess it’s Vinny’s fault, Blake Griffin got OWNED by the OLDER Un-Athletic Z-BO
    It’s Vinny’s fault, Griffin averaged 4 rebounds per game in the playoffs vs Memphis
    It’s Vinny’s fault, his team failed on transition and help side defense
    It’s Vinny’s fault, Griffin and Jordan can’t hit free throws
    It’s Vinny’s fault, his team can’t hold on to the ball down the stretch
    It’s Vinny’s fault, his players are missing shots
    It’s Vinny’s fault, Crawford goes 2-12

    Rather than take responsibility for their own actions, they blame Vinny for their failures

    The Clippers have a history of firing coaches every 2-3 years

    CP3 is another Deron Williams

    They should be more worried about their 9 expired contracts vs who’s going to coach us

    According to fans, if you’re a head coach and you never won a championship, you suck and you need to be fired

  15. cmehustle - May 22, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    But the Clippers won all those games not because of Del Negro but because Paul and Blake Griffin are the best players the Clippers have ever had. Talent wins in the NBA. Del Negro ran rather simplistic offensive sets and let Paul be the Peyton Manning kind of signal caller, which was smart. But Del Negro couldn’t get them farther — up against Memphis when the Clips needed more than just talent

    OK so the Clips won all those games because talent wins in the NBA. Gotcha. But Del Negro couldnt get them farther because the Clips need more than talent?? Huh?? So its credit the players for wins and blame the coaches for losses…..got it.

  16. ultichiva - May 23, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    I think Shaquille oneal should coach the Clippers.

    • badintent - May 23, 2013 at 2:14 AM

      And have Barkley as his PR man.Kenny can be the main assistant (like Brian shaw is on Pacers).

  17. edwardemanuelson - May 23, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    The spoiled diva players win again!

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