After the team’s most successful regular season in franchise history, the wheels seem to be coming off the tracks for the Los Angeles Clippers.
It’s been just one week since the Clippers fired coach Vinny Del Negro following the team’s 56-26 regular season and first-round playoff exit. Now, star point guard Chris Paul is upset that the organization is saying he was part of the reason Del Negro was let go, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
“He’s angry right now, and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” Broussard reports a source as saying. “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.”
On May 21, the day Del Negro was fired, Clippers owner Donald Sterling implied to Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers that Paul contributed to the coach’s ouster. Asked if it was “off base” to say “players are now calling the shots,” Sterling said, “No, you’re not off base. This is a players’ league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win, you have to make the players happy.”
“If you have special players, and special players think that they know the best opportunity to win, you have to support them,” Sterling added.
Del Negro also implied that Paul was a reason he was let go when he appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday.
“Chris is a free agent,” Del Negro said. “He’s entitled to his opinion. … He’s going to have a lot of say in a lot of things.”
It had been widely speculated that Paul, who becomes a free agent July 1, will re-sign with the Clippers, who can offer him a better contract (five years, $108 million) than any other team. But Broussard’s source said it’s very possible that the point guard could move elsewhere as a result of being blamed for Del Negro’s firing.