Vinny Del Negro's contract with the Clippers expires on June 30. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
A new coach for the Clippers? Not so fast.
Considered a lock to be fired after the Clippers' disappointing first-round exit, Vinny Del Negro might be brought be back by Clippers owner Donald Sterling, reports ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein.
The Los Angeles Clippers, after following up the first division title in franchise history with a disappointing first-round playoff exit, have not ruled out bringing back coach Vinny Del Negro, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that there is a level of interest within the organization to extend Del Negro's contract despite the widespread assumption in league circles that the embattled coach would take the fall for the Clippers' six-game exit to the Memphis Grizzlies in Round 1.
The final call ultimately rests with Clippers owner Donald Sterling -- who is regarded as Del Negro's biggest backer in the organization -- but one source close to the process said Wednesday that team officials were still deliberating and that no decision has been made yet.
Under Del Negro, the Clippers finished 56-26, good for fourth in the West, and tallied a 17-game winning streak, the longest in franchise history. But questions surrounded Del Negro's ability to lead a title-contending team. Blake Griffin criticized the coach for changing the defensive gameplan before every game, and many wondered whether maintaining the status quo at coach would preclude Chris Paul from re-signing this summer.
Nothing has been decided yet, but the ESPN.com report says that the longer this process takes, the more likely it is that Del Negro stays.
Sources stressed that Sterling could still wind up deciding to go another direction entering a critical summer for the team with Chris Paul bound for free agency July 1.
Early indications were that the Clippers would likely make a decision on Del Negro -- whose contract expires June 30 -- within a week or so of their Game 6 loss in Memphis on May 3. But the process has taken longer because Sterling generally prefers to take his time on major decisions.
The longer Sterling has taken to consider the situation, sources say, the more Del Negro's chances of scoring another short-term contract have been boosted.