Just three weeks after the completion of the Clipper’s NBA season, the team has decided to part ways with coach Vinny Del Negro. Billionaire owner Donald Sterling was not satisfied with the performance of his team following the team’s elimination at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference first-round playoffs and decided not to renew the contract of coach Del Negro as a result.
Team executives provided the 80 year old Sterling with a list of potential coaches so that the team can begin its search for a replacement quickly. The 29 year owner is one of the longest tenured in the league, so he is no stranger to finding a quality coach. The USA Today reports a wide open search for the new coach, but that “candidates who are expected to receive consideration are former Cleveland and New Orleans coach Byron Scott, Jeff and Stan Van Gundy, Golden State assistant Michael Malone, former Portland coach Nate McMillan, and former Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry.”
The Clipper’s performance this season can’t be considered a total failure despite their first-round playoff defeat, as they were incredibly successful during the regular season. The Los Angeles team not named the Lakers won a team record 56 games during the regular season thanks in large part to the acquisition of point guard Chris Paul to compliment rising star forward Blake Griffin in ‘Lob City.’ Paul’s contract is up after this season, but should the team choose to bring him back, he will certainly have a say in who the next head coach is, considering that he has had personnel say in other team decisions while in Los Angeles.
Del Negro had a winning record in his three years with the team, posting a 120-102 record over that span. However the team had the talent to contend for a title this season, and after blowing a 2-0 series lead to the surprising Grizzlies, team execs opted not to renew his contract. Del Negro was able to overcome numerous significant injuries to his players this season and still lead them to a playoff birth, however his efforts weren’t enough to warrant retaining his job.
The vacancy is certainly an intriguing one for the potential suitors to the position, as the team has shown it has the talent to compete with the league’s best despite injuries and a coach that team executives deemed unworthy of the position. Whoever ends up winning this job will have high expectations from fans and management alike, and will be pressured to surpass this year’s record setting win total in their first year.
Whether or not this was the right decision for the Los Angeles Clippers is up for debate, as ESPN’s Sports Nation poll on whether or not this was the correct move for the team to make is neck and neck with 53% currently in favor of the move. The Twitter world is also split with their views, with strong opinions being made both in favor and against. Only the team’s future performance will show whether or not Donald Sterling, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Clipper’s executives made the right call in opting not to renew Vinny Del Negro’s contract this year.
By: Charlie Gille
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
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