The Los Angeles Clippers have reportedly decided against renewing the contract for head coach Vinny Del Negro, less than three weeks after the team suffered a disappointing 4-2 first round exit in the playoffs at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Del Negro was hired by the Clippers to be the head coach in July 2010 and took the team to its first division title in franchise history this season with a 56-26 record (.683).
The news of Del Negro's departure was first reported via a tweet Tuesday afternoon from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Wojnarowski also added in the report that Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who becomes a free agent in July, had been lobbying privately with the front office for a new coach. Team owner Donald Sterling had reportedly been "fond" of Del Negro, according to Wojnarowski, but it became clear that the team needed to do what was necessary to appeal to Paul as he enters free agency.
Ironically, the Grizzlies team that beat the Clippers in the playoffs this season is led by head coach Lionel Hollins, who is set to have his contract expire this summer. According to Wojnarowski, Hollins is a candidate for the vacant coaching position with the Clippers.