The Clippers announced Tuesday that coach Vinny Del Negro, whose contract was set to expire, will not be retained after guiding his team to its winningest season in franchise history.
“We would like to thank Vinny for everything he did during his three years with the organization,” Clippers VP of basketball operations Gary Sacks said in a statement. “Vinny helped this team win a Pacific Division title and we greatly appreciate all that he and his staff helped us accomplish. This was a difficult decision, but we feel this is the best decision for our franchise moving forward.”
Yahoo! Sports, who first reported the news, noted that Del Negro will not return in 2013-14 because franchise point guard Chris Paul "wanted a different coach." CBSSports.com reported that Paul was "not a fan" of Del Negro and that lack of support was "among the biggest reasons" the Clippers chose to move on.
L.A. claimed its first ever division title after winning 56 games this season, the most in a franchise history that dates back to 1970-71. However, the Clippers were eliminated by the Grizzlies in six games in their first-round Western Conference playoff series. That result represented a step back from their Western Conference semifinals appearance in 2012.
Del Negro, 46, holds a career coaching record of 210-184 (.533) in five seasons with the Bulls and Clippers. He was 128-102 (.557) in his three seasons in L.A.
Del Negro joins Jim Boylan (parted ways with Bucks), P.J. Carlesimo (parted ways with Nets), Mike Dunlap (fired by Bobcats), Lawrence Frank (fired by Pistons), Byron Scott (fired by Cavaliers) and Doug Collins (stepped down from Sixers) as coaches to lose their jobs since the end of the 2012-13 season. Interim coach Lindsey Hunter’s future with the Suns also remains up in the air.
The Point Forward recently ranked the most attractive head coaching openings in the NBA.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone could be candidates. The Los Angeles Times added Scott, Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, former Suns coach Alvin Gentry, Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy to the list of candidates. USA Today Sports reported that former Blazers coach Nate McMillan could also be in the mix and CBSSports.com reported that Paul is a "proponent" of Malone.
Sacks was promoted from assistant GM last summer after former GM Neil Olshey left to take a similar position with the Blazers. He finished second to Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri in this year's Executive of the Year race.
Paul, 28, was selected to his sixth All-Star Game and to the All-Defensive First Team this season and posted averages of 16.9 points, 9.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. A second-round pick in the 1988 NBA draft, Del Negro spent a 12-year playing career with the Kings, Bucks, Warriors and Suns and holds career averages of 9.1 points and 3.2 assists per game.