The LA Clippers’ decision not to retain Vinny Del Negro had a lot more to do with keeping superstar players happy, than it did with his ability as a head coach.
The franchise seemed happy enough with the job he did through three seasons (going 128-102), but without Chris Paul’s support, VDN never stood a chance.
Clippers owner Donald Sterling didn’t deny that Del Negro was shown the door in an effort to re-sign CP3 through free agency this summer.
Per the LA Times:
“The coach is a wonderful man, and I’m sad about the whole thing,” Sterling said. “Was this done,” I asked, “just to hang on to Chris Paul?” … “I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true,” Sterling said. “So I’d rather not say anything. But you know, the coach did a really good job. I think he did. And I liked working with him. There are just factors that make life very complicated and very challenging.”
So the Clippers are trying to hang on to Paul. But don’t they already have him locked up? The team has done everything to make him comfortable, even hire his favorite PR guy from New Orleans. Do the Clippers really think he would accept almost $28 million less to sign elsewhere? [...] “So I wonder, is this decision being made because the players are now calling the shots? Am I off base?” … “No, you’re not off base,” Sterling said. “This is a players’ league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win you have to make the players happy. Don’t you think that’s true?”
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are said to have liked Vinny Del Negro just fine, but had serious doubts about him being the man to lead them to the promised land. Both superstars will be consulted during the Clippers’ search for a new head coach.
As Donald Sterling admitted, for better or worse, this is very much a players’ league.