Vinny Del Negro was not brought back as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers after three mostly successful seasons with the franchise. Multiple reports and the comments of team owner Donald Sterling have indicated the Clippers decided not to bring back Del Negro because they felt hiring a new coach would give them the best shot at retaining Chris Paul, who is a free agent.
During an interview on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday, Del Negro was asked point blank about how much of a role he thought CP3′s free agency played in the Clippers not bringing him back. Del Negro seemed to subtly admit Paul wanted a new coach while boasting about what the point guard accomplished under his watch.
“Well, Chris is a free agent. They were compelled to make a decision. He’s entitled to his opinion. But he made first-team All-NBA both seasons on defense and on offense, and I believe that’s the first time he’s done that in his career. We set every franchise record. In saying that, he’s a free agent and he’s going to have a lot of say so on a lot of things as he did the previous summer when we put the team together,” said Del Negro.
Patrick turned it up a notch and asked Del Negro about CP3 more directly.
“Do you think Chris Paul did not want you back?” he asked.
“Oh I don’t know. I don’t think I need to get into that. It’s behind me,” Del negro answered.
Del Negro then complimented the job he and his staff did with the team.
“They’re positioned for success in the future. There’s no question you have to have a long-term view. They were compelled to make a decision that they felt was in the best interest of their team. However it went down it doesn’t matter.
“Obviously the Clippers’ history is the Clippers’ history, but I’m proud of what we did there the last few seasons. They’re positioned to be successful for a long time now, which I’m proud of. I give my staff and all my assistant coaches a tremendous amount of credit.”
It seems to me that Del Negro acknowledged the situation without directly admitting Paul was behind the firing. I agree with the team’s decision not to bring him back, but how can you not at least feel a little betrayed to hear that your star player preferred to have a new coach?