This is why the Los Angeles Clippers can't have nice things. The Los Angeles Clippers have the best point guard in basketball and now, if reports are true, they're doing everything they can to get Chris Paul to leave. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Paul is upset that the blame for the firing of Vinny Del Negro is being placed on his shoulders by owner Donald Sterling.
"He's angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization," the source said. "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."
This comes after a Los Angeles Times piece from T.J. Simers where Sterling strongly implied Paul and Blake Griffin were behind Del Negro's firing. The Broussard piece goes on to say the Del Negro also believes Paul was behind his firing and even said so on the Dan Patrick Show. It'd be one thing for Broussard to report this from one source close to Paul, but ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz also writes that Clippers management, no Paul was the driving force behind Del Negro getting the axe.
It was only a matter of time before we caught word of Paul’s displeasure, and you can’t blame him. First, the notion that Paul was the primary force behind the decision to let Del Negro is patently false. Management wanted Del Negro gone in March 2012 and, again, when the Clippers bowed out to Memphis in the first round of this season’s playoffs. If anything, Paul has been more deferential than he had to be with regard to Del Negro’s fate.
As Arnovitz notes, Paul did not object to Del Negro's return for this season and didn't voice displeasure with his former coach once the Clippers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Whether this is enough for Paul to decide to head elsewhere is unclear. Atlanta and Dallas both have to licking their chops now. Mark Cuban has always been a player friendly coach who doesn't pass the buck on final decisions. Likewise, the Hawks can sell Paul on general manager Danny Ferry and new head coach Mike Budenholzer. Both come from the San Antonio Spurs tree, where there was hardly ever leaks and management and ownership were always in sync with one another. Plus, Paul, from nearby North Carolina would instantly be the most popular Hawk since Dominique Wilkins.
The lure of L.A. and more money may be enough to keep Paul in a Clipper uniform, but the owner throwing him under the bus for having the coach fired is probably the last thing the front office needed in their efforts to keep him around.
Photo: USA Today