A franchise-record 56 wins and two straight playoff appearances weren't enough for Vinny Del Negro, who will not be retained by the Los Angeles Clippers.
The news comes from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
I should clarify: Del Negro wasn't fired as coach. He was informed that he won't be offered a new contract to return. His deal has expired.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 21, 2013
It's been a truly polarizing run for the 46-year-old head coach.
On one hand, he took over a franchise that had been to the playoffs just once in the last 13 years and immediately guided it to two postseason appearances in three seasons.
During his time in L.A., he compiled a record of 128-102.
On the other hand, however, his in-game decisions and coaching strategy often left much to be desired (via CBS Sports' Ken Berger):
Every game I watch Vinny Del Negro coach is strategically unrecognizable to me.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) May 1, 2013
And that's putting it very lightly.
In fact, Del Negro's coaching ability has become somewhat of a running joke within both media and fan circles—and it's not exactly difficult to see why (via The Basketball Jones' J.E. Skeets):
Vinny Del Negro whiteboard pics are the best — bit.ly/Z4bJAt— J.E. Skeets (@jeskeets) April 2, 2013
Most recently, Del Negro not only received a boatload of criticism for the lineup decisions he made against the Memphis Grizzlies, but his team was also noticeably flat en route to a disappointing first-round exit.
He wasn't just drawing crestfallen reviews from the fans and media, either, as the players also chimed in (via Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy):
A number of players were upset with Vinny Del Negro after tonight's loss. They didn't agree with some of his decisions and let him know.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 4, 2013
Was firing Del Negro the right decision?
It's difficult to put yourself on the hot seat after following up a Western Conference semifinals appearance with a 56-win season, but Del Negro is special in that way.
The Clips have yet to announce a replacement for the maligned head coach, but time is of the essence. All-world point guard Chris Paul is set to hit free agency this summer—and finding a coach who increases the chances of bringing CP3 back to Los Angeles is of the utmost importance.
In early May, CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher suggested a potentially fascinating idea that was being tossed around:
A tantalizing candidate to be the Clippers' next head coach posited by one NBA executive if the team would like to maximize its chances of Chris Paul re-signing with the franchise: Chauncey Billups. I can't tell you if Billups is interested in retiring as a player at this point, or even if being a head coach is what he wants to do next, but he certainly knows the game well enough, has long held unusual authority among his peers on the court and in the locker room.
No matter who replaces Del Negro, most see this as a major step forward for the Clippers organization.