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.