The Los Anglees Clippers have parted ways with Vinny Del Negro after three seasons as head coach.
The handwriting was on the wall after the team’s ouster from the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs. The Clippers won a record 56 games and finished first in the Pacific Division for the first time, but the early post-season elimination did not enhance Del Negro’s job security.
The NBA is a players’ league, and Del Negro reportedly was not popular with the players including superstar guard and free-agent-to-be Chris Paul. “There had been some belief that owner Donald Sterling — who has been fond of Del Negro — would decide to keep the coach, but ultimately the Clippers needed to do everything they believed necessary to re-sign Paul in July.” Del Negro was not under contract beyond this season.
Del Negro finished his Clippers tenure with a 128-102 regular-season record, which included a 17-game winning streak in the 2012-2013 season. A team executive said that “We would like to thank Vinny for everything he did during his three years with the organization. Vinny helped this team win a Pacific Division title and we greatly appreciate all that he and his staff helped us accomplish. This was a difficult decision, but we feel this is the best decision for our franchise moving forward.”
Prior to joining the Clippers, Del Negro coached the Chicago Bulls for two years and an 82-82 record. He was let go by the Bulls in May 2010.
The former Clippers coach played college ball at North Carolina State and was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the second round of the 1988 NBA draft. In addition to the Kings, he played for the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns as well as in for two teams in Italy. He averaged 9 points per game for his NBA career.