In what was the worst kept secret of all time, the Los Angeles Clippers fired head coach Vinny Del Negro on Tuesday after yet another promising season ended in playoff defeat. The reason for Del Negro’s firing is perhaps the most obvious reason of all time as well — Chris Paul didn’t want him in town anymore. Clippers owner Donald Sterling spoke to the Los Angeles Times and while he didn’t outright admit the firing was to please Chris Paul, he strayed pretty far away from denying it as well.
“I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true, so I’d rather not say anything,” Sterling said when asked by Los Angeles Times reporter T.J. Simers if Chris Paul had anything to do with Del Negro’s firing. “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.”
While Sterling didn’t come right out and say that Del Negro was fired to keep the real leader of the Clippers happy, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that’s exactly what happened. At the end of the day, it was the only choice the Clippers had, as a billion Vinny Del Negro’s do not equal the importance of one single Chris Paul and Sterling was very aware of that fact.
The Clippers are a team that can be so much better than they are but the excuses leave town with Del Negro. He never seemed like a match for the team and now that he’s gone, the weight is squarely on Chris Paul’s shoulders. He seems like he can carry the burden, but another failed season will fall on him as it’s not clear he has total and possibly apocalyptic control over the future of the team.