Clippers’ owner basically admits Del Negro let go to keep Chris Paul happy

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We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to be CP3 (who had a lot of influence over the Clips free agent moves last summer, too).

Don’t believe me? Ask Sterling.

Which is what T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times did, and Sterling’s answer was telling.

“The coach is a wonderful man, and I’m sad about the whole thing,” Sterling said.

“Was this done,” I asked, “just to hang on to Chris Paul?”

“I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true,” Sterling said. “So I’d rather not say anything. 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.”

It’s easy to say the Clippers had the most success in their franchise history — last year making the second round of the playoffs, this season winning 56 games and the team’s first-ever Pacific Division title. Why mess with that?

But the Clippers won all those games not because of Del Negro but because Paul and Blake Griffin are the best players the Clippers have ever had. Talent wins in the NBA. Del Negro ran rather simplistic offensive sets and let Paul be the Peyton Manning kind of signal caller, which was smart. But Del Negro couldn’t get them farther — up against Memphis when the Clips needed more than just talent, when they needed adjustments and sets that played to their advantages the Clips had nothing to go to.

If 50-something wins and a few playoffs wins is enough for you, so be it. It wasn’t for Chris Paul.

And that will be good for the organization… if they make a smart hire now. You can bet CP3 will have influence in this choice as well.