Clippers Retain Vinny Del Negro
The Los Angeles Clippers exercised their option on head coach Vinny Del Negro to return for his third season with the team.
Del Negro took the Clippers to the second round for just the second time since the team moved to Los Angeles. There was widespread speculation that the Clippers would look elsewhere for a more playoff-experienced coach but Del Negro will return.
The Clippers finished the regular season at 40-26, after a difficult March where the team seemed to spiral briefly with no direction. Ultimately, the team would stabilize and finish with the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles impressed in the first round, taking a 3-1 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies but struggled to close out. Del Negro started an unorthodox lineup in the fourth quarter of Game 7 in Memphis, featuring Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans and that group extended the team’s lead to double figures.
The Game 7 victory would lead to a second-round sweep by the dominant San Antonio Spurs. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were hobbled and the Clippers struggled.
Now, the Clippers are nearing free agency for both players. Griffin appears likely to extend before ever hitting restricted free agency. Paul can leave after next season as an unrestricted free agent.
Suffice it to say, if either player was adamantly opposed to playing for Del Negro, he wouldn’t be back.
If Vinny succeeds with this group and they all stay together beyond next year, so be it. If Paul’s decision is tied to a different head coach, the Clippers aren’t tied to Del Negro for more than a year.
“I’m happy to have Vinny back for another year,” said Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, who declined to comment in depth on his own free agency status. “The rest of it will all work itself out.”
The Clippers, via conference call, indicated the decision-making process was simple on Del Negro. The team just wanted a few days to decompress after their season which ended on May 20th.
“We were all in unison from day one that Vinny would [be back],” said Olshey.
Now the Clippers will turn to resolving Olshey’s status and prepare for the offseason starting with the draft (and any trades surrounding it) and the start of free agency in July.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to continue the plan we set in place,” said Del Negro. “I’m pleased in the direction we’re going.”