The Los Angeles Clippers are coming off of another disappointing season where they failed to make it out of he first round of the playoffs, but their problems seem to just begin there. Head coach Vinny Del Negro was fired but that still wasn’t enough to make superstar point guard Chris Paul happy as sources have informed ESPN Los Angeles that Paul isn’t happy with the team and may question his return next season.
According to the report, Chris Paul is upset not only at the Clippers play but that he’s been named as the reason Vinny Del Negro was let go by management.
“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” the source said to ESPN LA. “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.”
Vinny Del Negro hinting to Dan Patrick that he feels Paul got him fired isn’t helping things either, nor is the fact that the Clippers have failed to come out and staunchly deny the rumor. The source of the tension between Del Negro and the front office reportedly stemmed from the fact that Del Negro made trade calls behind the team’s back to the Boston Celtics, which was the reason why we had the Kevin Garnett rumors around the trade deadline in February.
While Paul has spoken of re-signing with the Clippers as though it’s a foregone conclusion in the past, ESPN LA is reporting that Paul may change his mind thanks to the organization failing to take the heat on firing Del Negro.
The Clippers can offer him a five-year, $108 million deal, $28 million more than any other club. But the source said he would not put it past Paul to turn down more money if he feels strongly that he’s been slighted.
If Paul decides to leave the team, the Atlanta Hawks are expected to make a serious run at brining him in. Paul can request a sign-and-trade if he desires and the Hawks have the cap space to give both Paul and Dwight Howard lucrative deals this offseason. Both Paul and Howard have spoke about the idea of doing this very thing, and Paul is an Atlanta native, which raises the stakes.
Los Angeles was lucky to get Chris Paul for how much they paid, and it seems they’ve now taken that for granted. There’s no guarantee that Paul will leave in free agency thanks to this mess, but there’s also no longer a guarantee that he’ll stay either.