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Clippers reach out to Jeff Van Gundy, Brian Shaw, Byron Scott about job

Jeff-Van-Gundy-rips-MagicThe Los Angeles Clippers’ coaching search has officially begun in the wake of their decision to not bring Vinny Del Negro back, and several high-profile candidates are reportedly on the team’s radar. The top target at this point appears to be Jeff Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, whose clever broadcasting antics have become a staple of every basketball household, last coached with the Houston Rockets in 2007. His name is thrown around in association with vacant head coaching positions every offseason, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Van Gundy is open to a coaching return for the right opportunity.

Wojnarowski also reported on Thursday that the Clippers have interest in George Karl, who has one year remaining on his contract with the Denver Nuggets and is uneasy about coaching under a one-year deal. However, it is not likely that the Nuggets will let him leave, as the team holds an option that could trigger three more years on his contract.

According to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne, Van Gundy and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw are currently at the top of the Clippers’ short list. It is believed that Shaw would be interested in the head coaching position, but LA has to wait until the Pacers’ season is officially over before they can discuss it with him.

Another candidate the Clippers are reportedly considering is Byron Scott, who has not enjoyed much success as a head coach since he led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances a decade ago. Scott was recently fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers after he was unable to rebuild the team in the post-LeBron era, but Shelburne and ESPN’s Chris Broussard pointed out that he was a championship player for the Lakers and is still popular in LA.

Scott also remains close with Chris Paul from their days together in New Orleans. As Del Negro recently hinted, having Paul’s endorsement is by no means insignificant when it comes to keeping a job with the Clippers.

So many candidates, so little time.

Chris Paul said to be ‘angry’ with Clippers over Vinny Del Negro reports

Chris Paul ClippersChris Paul is “angry” with the Los Angeles Clippers over the perception that he was responsible for the team getting rid of Vinny Del Negro as head coach, ESPN reports.

Del Negro was informed by the team last week that they would not retain him despite leading the team to a 56-26 season. Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports, and the Los Angeles Times all indicated that Paul was dissatisfied with Del Negro and/or wanted a different coach. Team owner Donald Sterling even indicated to the LA Times’ T.J. Simers that Del Negro was let go to increase the team’s chances of retaining Paul, who will be a free agent.

The speculation that Del Negro was let go in order to increase the team’s chance at retaining Paul was prevalent last week after the Del Negro news was announced. The issue came back up this week when Del Negro conducted an interview with Dan Patrick and hinted CP3 had a role in his firing.

All the talk about him costing Del Negro the job supposedly has the all-star point guard upset.

“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” a source told ESPN. “Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you’ve gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He’s very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny’s firing. He had nothing to do with it.”

ESPN’s source said neither Paul nor Blake Griffin were involved in the decision to dismiss Del Negro. Moreover, the source said the front office decided to make the change on their own after having disagreements with the coach during the season. ESPN also says that Del Negro feels Paul got him fired.

Paul will be a free agent on July 1 and was long believed to be highly likely to re-sign with the Clippers. There is a possibility that this issue over the perception that he was responsible for Del Negro’s dismissal could cause him to sign with another team.

Chris Paul reportedly wanted a different coach for Clippers

Chris-Paul-ClippersThe Los Angeles Clippers decided not to bring back Vinny Del Negro as their head coach, and the upcoming free agency situation with Chris Paul may have a lot to do with it.

Paul, who completed his second season with the Clippers and finished fourth in league MVP voting, will be a free agent this summer. He reportedly supported a coaching change.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Paul “wanted a new coach.”

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger says Paul “was not a fan” of Del Negro.

The Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner says Paul and Blake Griffin liked Del Negro personally but had doubts about his ability to lead the team to a championship.

It seems like the reports were pretty strong across the board that CP3 supported a change.

Even though the Clippers were highly successful in December and won all their game that month as part of a franchise-record 17-game winning streak, they lost in the first-round of the playoffs. It’s likely that a better coach would be able to get more from this talented team.

Names being mentioned in connection with the head coaching job include Lionel Hollins, Jeff and/or Stan Van Gundy, Byron Scott, Larry Drew, and Alvin Gentry. Current NBA assistants Mike Malone (Warriors) and Mike Budenholzer (Spurs) have also been mentioned.

Vinny Del Negro won’t be back with Clippers

Vinny Del NegroVinny Del Negro will not be back with the Los Angeles Clippers next season. His contract was up and the team decided not to bring him back.

Del Negro coached the team the last three seasons. They went 32-50 in his first season, 40-26 in his second season, and 56-26 this season.

The Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs last year, but they lost to them in the first round this year.

Despite having success last season, there were questions about his job security going back to last year.

Del Negro has long been considered the weak link on a team with a talented roster. His substitution patterns are questionable, as was the way he managed some of his key reserve players in the playoffs this year. Moves such as having top bench player Jamal Crawford only play 12 minutes in a season-ending Game 6 loss to the Grizzlies were inexplicable and, when asked about the decision, Del Negro had little explanation. At various points throughout the season, the players seemed to express frustration with him as coach.

The firing of Del Negro should also give the Clippers a much better shot at retaining Chris Paul in free agency.

Blake Griffin: No hatred between Clippers and Grizzlies

Blake-Griffin-Zach-RandolphAfter the way the postseason went last year, it’s only appropriate that the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies would square off again this season in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. When those two teams get together, things have a tendency to get chippy.

Despite the fact that Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph have a history of beating up on each other when their teams get together, Griffin insists there is no bad blood between the Grizzlies and the Clippers. Here’s what he told Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina, who was celebrating the sixth anniversary of Hot Clicks on Tuesday (congrats to Jimmy on the well-deserved milestone).

“Not hatred. We have a mutual respect for each other with the battles we’ve had going back to last year in the regular season,” Griffin explained. “Like you said, the seven-game series was a battle. It’s become one of these well-known physical games where everyone’s taking the hits. It’s actually a lot of fun. There isn’t hate, though. On the court, there’s animosity. But off the court, everyone’s cool.”

You certainly could have fooled us. If you need several examples of Randolph and Griffin not playing nice with one another, we have them for you here. Perhaps Griffin has no hatred toward Memphis because his team has dominated the Grizzlies as of late and holds a 2-0 series lead over them already. If Randolph was asked about his feelings toward the Clippers, he might give a different answer.

Kenyon Martin: Clippers can’t win in the playoffs

Kenyon-Martin-KnicksThe Los Angeles Clippers have one of the best records in the NBA, but they have not played particularly well over the past month or so. At one point, LA ripped off a string of 17 straight victories in the month of December and looked like an early-season title contender. Since March began, the Clippers have been unable to win back-to-back games.

On Sunday, LA put a fairly convincing 93-80 beating on the New York Knicks. However, former Clipper and current Knick Kenyon Martin was not concerned about the loss because he believes Chris Paul and company are destined to fail in the postseason.

“They can’t do it in the playoffs, so it doesn’t matter,” Martin said, via ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Regular season, it’s all up-and-down. We know how the game goes in the regular season.

“I don’t care what they do, to be honest with you. I hope they lose every game.”

As Pro Basketball Talk pointed out, the Clippers last four losses have come against the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder. All four of those teams will be in the playoffs, so Vinny Del Negro is going to have to find a way to get his team to play consistently against quality opponents if LA is going to make a deep run.

Having said that, Martin is clearly biased toward his former team. The Clippers didn’t want to keep him around, so it’s only natural for him to want them to fail. As we have learned in the past, talk is cheap when it comes to the playoffs. LA could turn it on as soon as the postseason begins, or they could bow out and prove Martin right. Only time will tell.

Brandon Knight has funny response to being dunked on by DeAndre Jordan (Video)

DeAndre-Jordan-dunk-on-Brandon-KnightThe Los Angeles Clippers connected for one of the fiercest alley-oops of the season on Sunday night, and Blake Griffin wasn’t even on the floor. This particular lob came from Chris Paul and was deposited by DeAndre Jordan. Unfortunately for Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Knight, it was done so at his expense.

You have to give Knight credit. There aren’t many situations where a 6-foot-3 guard is going to be able to defend a 6-foot-11 center, but he gave it a try. Knight put himself in a position to be placed on a poster, and he even had a good sense of humor about it after the game.

We know that’s a lie. Just last week we saw Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin hook up for one of the sickest alley-oops we’ve ever seen during an actual game. Griffin wasn’t this excited when the team traded for CP3 for no reason. Knight knew what he was getting himself into and he didn’t back down. That’s more than you can see for some players who tower over him.