The Los Angeles Clippers have fired coach Vinny Del Negro, NBA sources tell Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, ending an embattled tenure that saw Del Negro lead the Clippers to new heights for the franchise, yet still not climb over the top to championship contention.
The Clippers have fired Vinny Del Negro, source tells Y!
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 21, 2013
The Clippers were 128-102 under Del Negro in three seasons. He took over a team that had the No. 1 pick in Blake Griffin playing his first season after sitting out his rookie season with injury. He struck it big when the Clippers moved to acquire Chris Paul. The franchise's fortunes changed dramatically.
Del Negro's teams the past two years had records with a win percentage better than 60 percent. He guided the Clippers to back-to-back Playoffs appearances for the first time since the franchise moved to Los Angeles and won a Playoff series in 2012, defeating the Grizzlies on the road in Game Seven to escape from the first round.
Yet, despite all the successes (and the relative success compared to the Clippers' history), he was always dogged with scrutiny. There were plenty who felt he was not getting the most out of an extremely talented team. The wild swings that occurred for the Clippers this year did not help.
In the end, Los Angeles put up a lot of money and a lot of faith in this year's team. It did not make it out of the first round, falling to Memphis in a return matchup of last year's first round. This time the Grizzlies closed things out on their home floor in Game Six.
Who will step in and take over now that Del Negro is gone? There are plenty of candidates — including Paul's former Hornets coach Byron Scott and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan (not to mention a certain in-law of the Buss family with 11 rings).
The Clippers also still have to actually re-sign Chris Paul, who is a free agent this summer. It is assumed they will, but the Clippers future very well could be determined in their next coach. Los Angeles certainly expects more and that is what the firing of Del Negro seems to signify.
The Clippers have championship expectations now. And that means sometimes searching for greener pastures even when things go well.