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Vinny Del Negro hints at the truth, but successfully avoids questions about Chris Paul’s role in his dismissal

May 30, 2013, 1:03 PM EDT

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Vinny Del Negro appeared on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, and spent a segment almost 10 minutes long discussing how his tenure ended with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The assumption that Chris Paul had as much to do with Del Negro not being brought back as anything (remember, technically he wasn’t fired; his contract only ran through the end of this season) was hinted at being true by Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and Del Negro similarly hinted at it during the first portion of this interview.

Patrick asks excellent, pointed questions to try to get the answers we’re all curious about, and Del Negro hems and haws his way through it all — presumably, because he’d like another shot at coaching some day, and the way to make that happen isn’t to go on national radio and put your former team on blast.

We all know retaining a superstar player like Paul is more important than keeping all but one or two of the league’s head coaches in house. Despite the fact that the Clippers finished the season with a franchise-best 56 wins that Del Negro will continue to hang his hat on, there were very real flaws in his coaching style that played as much of a part in his dismissal as the wishes of the team’s all-world free agent.

  1. skids003 - May 30, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Coaching in the NBA is just a baby sitting service. Keep the children happy.

    • fanofevilempire - May 30, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      every coach goes thru the same thing in todays nba, 3-4 years and you start packing, the few
      exceptions are Phil, Pop and Doc.
      and don’t blame Durant but OKC will be looking soon too if they don’t win next year.

  2. logisticalvoices - May 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Good for Vinny. No use in slinging mud. Everyone knows what happened here. I hope he lands on his feet.

  3. truthplainandsimple - May 30, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Del Negro was on the verge of getting canned after last season. The Bulls canned Del Negro when Derrick Rose was healthy. Under Thibs’ FIRST season after VDN got canned, they won 62-games, he won Coach of the Year and Rose gets MVP. Why are people forgetting the FACT that VDN is just not a good coach? The Clippers signed ONLY because he was cheap. EVERY franchise seeks the opinion of star players when it comes to major moves. Hell, CP3’s recruiting was the reason they picked up Grant HIll and Jamal Crawford. Let’s not forget, Del Negro referred to CP3 as his entire offensive strategy. Yeah, THAT’s great coaching. Now he’s trying to slander him on his way out? What a dweeb.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Don’t you mean…”liesplanandsimple.”
      He did NOT slander him on his way out.
      He DID just lead them to their best season ever.
      He DID get hosed in the process.
      You seem to be more of a Chris Paul guy.
      With that in mind…he can’t do anything wrong. “True.”

  4. logisticalvoices - May 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    @truthplainandsimple: you’re comment is neither truth, plain, or simple. Vinny may not be the best coach in the NBA, but he just lead the Clippers to their best season ever. He deserved at least one more year.

    • brookwell2013 - May 30, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Well said logisticalvoices…..Vinny probably did deserve another year and I know it is against the culture of the NBA to talk about injuries but when Griffin went down in the Grizz series (he did come back of course at what looked like 60%) the Clippers were in serious trouble. Butler missing shots and Jordan missing chippies all the time was simply not Vinny’s fault. It will be interesting to see who they bring in. Clearly Chris Paul has to approve the hire —- I don’t care what anyone says or writes; Paul will have to say “yes” to any coaching choice or the Clippers will have a real problem.

    • jteng044 - May 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Truthplainandsimple is correct. The Clippers won purely on talent for the most part this year. If you look at the Clippers and their offense and defense, they lacked principles. The Clippers only ran a few plays that consisted of high screen and rolls and Blake Griffin, CP3, and Jamal Crawford isolations. Posting up Blake in the iso is actually a good way to run the offense. However, because the Clippers decided to try to dump the ball into the post straight up without using initial actions to cause misdirection on opposing defenses, opponents scouted this very well especially in the playoffs and kept Blake from getting the ball in the post where Blake is one of the best passing big men who can also get a good look off. The Clippers offense consisted of running screen and roll over and over until something materializes and too often, the offense breaks down leading to iso plays by CP3 and Crawford. If you watch SAS and some of the Rick Adelman coached teams and other good coaches, their offenses predicate more than just primary actions. They use primary and secondary actions to try to get the best possible shots that if not used as a decoy will lead to putting players in the best position to score. The Clippers looked lost in the half-court as CP3 had to bark out instructions. Take away the Clippers transition game and the Clippers were easy to stop. On defense, they lack defensive principles. Look at the Bulls and the Pacers. they do not use their athleticism to gamble and get out of position. The Bulls denied middle penetration and drove the ball handler to the sideline on screen and rolls. Blake Griffin even said it himself that their defensive schemes change game to game and that is indicative of the coach. VDN did well to manage egos but when you play 12 players throughout the whole season you do not give your most important players the reps they need in the playoffs. Case in point with DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Jordan disappeared in the playoffs because he never averaged more than 24 minutes per game. Had he gotten even garbage time in the regular season when LAC blew out inferior teams to work on his game and show the improvements he had made the previous offseason, that experience would have come a long way towards maintaining his confidence. To have a washed up Lamar Odom take minutes away from DJ is bewildering to me when Odom shot a few percentage points better from the FT line with a much smaller sample size. Having Turiaf and Hollins who both were in and out of the rotation throughout the season and to be incorporated into the postseason is beyond me. Eric Bledsoe, the team’s best perimeter defender, never got more than 20 minutes per game and had minutes taken away by the likes of Chauncey Billups (mostly infeffective) and Caron Butler (mostly ineffective). You don’t understand, logisticalvoices. Explain to me how in game 6, Crawford only plays 12 minutes while Eric Bledsoe gets 5 minutes and Willie Green and Grant Hill play when they had not played all series long against Memphis. That is poor coaching to me. VDN should have been gone last year but better late than never. You probably don’t watch that many Clipper games but only follow what the national media think about the Clippers.

      • fonefifty - May 30, 2013 at 7:51 PM

        Wasting DJ on the bench was enough grounds to can Vinny as far as I’m concerned. So glad you took the time to explain what we real Clippers fans observed over the past 3 seasons with Vinny.

  5. fonefifty - May 30, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Clippers had their best season ever in the first half of the year — after the Allstar break, they regressed in every category. Frequently confused on defense, and inconsisent on offense. Rotations were questionable — like taking out the hot shooter just because it was someone else’s turn. VDN seemed more interested in equally distributing minutes to the bench than developing a system, which he never did. He even said just before playoffs that he was “trying different lineups” — TRYING! Going into the playoffs, you should KNOW what works! VDN would have been gone last year if it were up to the front office, but he still had CP3 and Blake’s support. But this time apparently neither franchise player went in and said let’s keep coach because we believe in his game plan for next year — because he never really had a game plan for this year!

  6. cariboolean - May 30, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    VDN is an average coach – not better, not worse. A big reason the Clips lost to Memphis in this year’s playoffs is his stubborn (and blind) insistence on not only starting an unable-to-contribute-anything-positive Chauncey Billups but playing him many more minutes than he deserved, while Willie Green, 3-point shooter par excellence who started all the games earlier in the season when Billups was out injured (and during the 17 game win streak), languished on the bench. In two of the last four losses Billups “accomplished” this: in one, he had 4 negative impact plays in the first 3 minutes (turnovers, fouls, missed shots). In the other, he had 3 personals with the first few minutes. Despite this obvious demonstration of his being out of sync (and I don’t mean to trash Billups, who’s had a great career) VDN stubbornly refused to play Green until it was too little, too late. A coach more able and willing to adjust and adapt during games would never have done this. So it’s simplistic to say the VDN deserves another year because he “led” the team to their best season ever. The team had its best personnel ever! He proved to be an unimaginative offensive coach.

  7. louhudson23 - May 31, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    So Chris Paul is the reason Del Negro got fired,but had no role in the teams poor play? Players who drive the front office should be up to the task of driving his teammates to improve,expand and perform….Paul seems neither capable nor interested in anything more than the next contract….

  8. jimsjam33 - May 31, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    What’s the big deal ? His three year contract ended and he had to pack his bags . The Clippers feel they can do better and have the right to pick a new coach . Byron Scott get ready you’re next .

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