When Vinny Del Negro was essentially let go by the Los Angeles Clippers, the finger pointing immediately found its way to Chris Paul. The free agent point guard is one of the best players in the NBA and someone the Clippers organization is pretty desperate to keep in order to remain one of the better teams in the Western Conference.
If you want to keep one of the best players in the league on your team, it's easier to accomplish this by catering to that player. We see it all the time with stars who have impending free agency getting a say in who the coach will be or players to bring in to be teammates. With Paul and the Clippers, it's been no different. To retain Paul's services, getting rid of Del Negro as the coach and bringing in someone better has been the assumed course of action. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling even suggested as such earlier this month.
While on the Dan Patrick Show, the ex-Clippers coach echoed Sterling's comments without outright accusing CP3 of getting him fired.
"Well, Chris is a free agent," Del Negro said. "They were compelled to make a decision. He's entitled to his opinion. He's a free agent and he's going to have a lot of say on a lot of things as he did in the previous summer when we put the team together."
Are the Clippers wrong for handling the situation this way? They had their best two-year stretch over the last two seasons with Del Negro on the sidelines and Paul running the show on the court. It was a combination that seemed to work, although many would argue Paul was the primary source for the majority of their success. To win a championship, Del Negro had to go and the Clippers had to bring someone else in.
Del Negro really never had championship expectations for a couple of reasons. First, few believe he's a championship-caliber coach in the NBA. Even with the success he's had in the regular season and with developing young players, he's regarded as a lesser coach than the elite sideline prowlers. Secondly, it's been hard to get used to the Clippers being a legitimate contender in the West. Even with their best season ever, they were ousted in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies.
If nobody expects you to coach a team or have a chance to coach a team to the NBA title, then it's safe to say you're in danger of being replaced for a better option. Factor in the assumption that Paul wants a better coach to work with and the lack of a contract renewal between the Clippers and Del Negro isn't shocking to anybody.