Clippers’ owner, GM put out fire on Del Negro hot seat

It seems like everyone has written off Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro. After a 3-game losing streak, including a tough one at New Orleans, there were reports that Del Negro had lost the team and it’s not a question of “if” he gets fired, it’s “when.” But hold your horses, Del Negro may have a longer leash than most people think.

Despite the Clippers’ 8-9 record in March, owner Donald Sterling is still backing his coach.

“I like him,” Sterling told the Los Angeles Times. “I usually follow the advice of my people, and I think they care for him, like him and want him to succeed. And I think he will….I don’t know where all these stories are coming from; nobody talked to me. Everything is good.

“Would I like more wins? I’d like more. I’d like the players to develop more; I’d like to play better. But then I have great expectations, and to a certain extent they’ve been realized. To some extent they haven’t, but I’m a patient guy.”

Patience is a virtue, especially in this situation. You’ve got a young coach with a young team. They’re still gelling and fighting through injury problems as well. Let’s not pull the trigger on firing the coach just yet. The Clippers are still in 4th place in the West, it’s not time to panic.

The vote of confidence comes from general manager Neil Olshey as well.

“It would be crazy to say when you lose 12 out of 19 that the thought doesn’t come through your mind. You’d have to be oblivious,” Olshey said. “But the good always outweighs the bad with Vinny. He works his butt off, the players like him, and they’re competing. You have 20 games in 31 days and so people are misconstruing a little bit of fatigue with a lack of effort.”

This could be a little bit of political sugarcoating from the men in charge but I think they really mean what they say. So for now, it looks like we’ll see Del Negro through to at least the end of the season. Then his contract is up and if the Clippers are bounced from the playoffs early, they may change their tone.