It was reported late Thursday evening that Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul is very upset with the organization for linking his name to the firing of Vinny Del Negro. Chris Broussard of ESPN has details:
Chris Paul is upset with the Los Angeles Clippers organization because he is being widely blamed for the firing of Vinny Del Negro as the Clippers’ coach, according to a source close to the situation.
How much of an impact this will have on Paul’s decision to re-sign with the Clippers as a free agent is not clear, but the source conceded that Paul’s anger could lead him to look elsewhere.
“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” the source said. “Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you’ve gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He’s very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny’s firing. He had nothing to do with it.”
True or not, Del Negro believes Paul got him fired, according to a source close to the Clippers’ ex-coach. The source added that Del Negro had no idea during the regular season or the playoffs that Paul wanted him out. On an appearance on the Dan Patrick radio show, Del Negro implied on Thursday that Paul was the reason he was let go.
“Chris made it abundantly clear to the Clippers that he did not want to be involved in any decision about Vinny’s future,” the source said. “And Blake had nothing to do with it either.”
If you’re a fan of the Clippers, this is bad news. Even when their season ended early on a sour note against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, there was no reason to assume that Paul may seriously look elsewhere, given his generally-loyal personality. You don’t want to hear that your franchise point guard that is about to hit free agency is very upset with you, and that’s precisely what’s going on.
There appears to be some serious confusion between Vinny Del Negro and Paul as to why everything happened the way it did, and a lot of it may have to do with Simers’ article about Donald Sterling’s statements when asked why Del Negro was fired:
Sterling told Times columnist T.J. Simers that Del Negro “is a wonderful man” and that he’s “sad about the whole thing.”
Simers wrote that he asked Sterling if Del Negro was fired “just to hang on to Chris Paul?”
Sterling said: “I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true. 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.”
Simers then wrote that he asked Sterling if he was “off base” to say the Clippers’ “players are now calling the shots?”
“No, you’re not off base,” Sterling replied. “This is a players’ league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win you have to make the players happy.”
Simers later quoted Sterling as saying, “If you have special players, and special players think that they know the best opportunity to win, you have to support them.”
It’s unclear why Sterling said the things he did, probably knowing that everything he said would likely reach the ears of Paul. Perhaps he heard certain things from management and was led to believe that firing Del Negro is the best way to keep Paul, even if the point guard never said anything about the coach publicly or privately. Maybe it was just his personal opinion. Whatever the reasons may be, he’s in a major pickle now. Given his reputation, though, you have to wonder: does he really even care?
Onto other news from around the league: