Speaking before his team's win over New Orleans last night, Clippers owner Donald Sterling said he hasn't given any thought to making a coaching change, according to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times. While recent reports have suggested Vinny Del Negro could be let go any day, Sterling expects Del Negro to continue coaching the team for the remainder of the season.
"I like him," Sterling said. "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…. 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."
ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported last week that tensions were high in the Clippers' locker room, and that Del Negro had lost the team. Sterling insisted he didn't know where those rumors were coming from, saying "everything is good." GM Neil Olshey also downplayed the report, though he acknowledged the team's recent slide made questions about a coaching change inevitable.
"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.
"I see absolutely no reason why there would be a coaching change based on where the guys are now," Olshey continued. "I think everybody built us up into something because we got out to such a great start and the minute we didn't live up to it for a short period of time everyone wanted to act like the Apocalypse was upon us."
While Del Negro's job status was the main focus of Simers' piece, Sterling also heaped praise on core players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, vowing to keep them in Los Angeles long-term: "Chris Paul will be with me for a lifetime. And Blake will too. I'm not going to ever let these guys go. They are max players, and so you're going to pay that and keep them."