Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Clippers made it publicly known that they will not re-sign their most successful head coach in franchise history. Vinny Del Negro had a contract that will expire this June, but owner Donald Sterling announced that he will not be returning to the team for the 2013-2014 season.
With the Sixers still searching for a coach, most signs point to the team signing a potentially up-and-coming assistant coach. Vinny Del Negro is an interesting candidate though. At just 46 years of age, he could be a long-term solution still if successful.
Del Negro proved that he could handle the egos of NBA players, something Doug Collins was never able to prove. The former Clippers coach was in charge of the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, and Jamal Crawford, along with former stars such as Chauncey Billups and Lamar Odom. Ultimately, despite all of the criticism and firing, he did so successfully, never losing his team the way that Collins seemed to last season.
With that said, and various coaching positions open around the NBA, many teams will do their due diligence to consider Del Negro. Despite being highly criticized in Los Angeles for his player rotations and play design in critical moments, Del Negro did great things for the Clippers franchise.
In his first season as head coach, the Clippers finished just 32-50, but Blake Griffin did win Rookie of the Year. In the biggest summer in franchise history, the team acquired All-Star point guard Chris Paul after the league called off a move to cross-town rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Del Negro led the Clippers to the Conference Semifinals in 2011-2012 after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. Regardless of the second round exit, the Clippers were viewed as one of the up-and-coming teams after a successful campaign.
Finally, in 2012-2013, the Clippers set all sorts of franchise records. Del Negro’s squad went on a franchise-best 17-game winning streak, including a record of 16-0 in the month of December. They recorded their first 50-win season in their history, finishing with a total of 56, and swept the season series against the Lakers. Unfortunately for the Clippers, they ran into a hot Grizzlies team that won four straight to win the series after Los Angeles took a 2-0 series lead.
Del Negro finished with a record of 128-102 record with the Clippers, good for a .557 win percentage, which is best in franchise history. He also becomes just the second head coach of the Clippers to leave the team with a winning record.
Before coaching the Clippers, Del Negro coached the Chicago Bulls for two seasons beginning in 2008. He finished with an 81-81 record and two first-round playoff exits before being let go by the team. Del Negro has never advanced past the Conference Semifinals in his five years of head coaching experience, but he does have an impressive overall record of 210-184. Whether or not Vinny Del Negro lands another job with a team before the 2013-2014 season is not yet to be determined, but if he does find work again, he is bringing a winning attitude and an impressive resume along with him.