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Coach Vinny Del Negro has support of organization

Gary Sacks, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations, says that speculation about Del Negro's future is a distraction and that the focus should be on the playoffs. Del Negro is in the final year of his contract.

April 23, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro signals his players during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro signals his players during a game against… (Michael Nelson / EPA )

Gary Sacks, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations, wanted to put an end to speculation about Coach Vinny Del Negro's future.

Sacks said that the organization supports Del Negro and that officials are happy with how the team has played.

"Our head coach and his staff have done a terrific job here," Sacks told The Times on Monday night. "They deserve a huge amount of credit for the way the team has played and the way our roster has developed."

Del Negro is in the final year of his contract, leading to speculation that his future with the Clippers is uncertain.

Sacks said talk should be about the Clippers playing the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

"I just think that this is the time to focus on the playoffs," Sacks said. "That this is a distraction bothers me. It keeps coming up. All we're trying to do is win. We're trying to put ourselves in position to win. I don't see any negativity in this organization now. It's all positive."

Sacks said anyone who believes that the front office and Del Negro are at odds is incorrect.

Much of that stems from talk that the Clippers had interest in acquiring Boston's Kevin Garnett for center DeAndre Jordan and guard Eric Bledsoe.

Sacks told The Times around the trade deadline in February that the organization had not called anyone about Jordan or Bledsoe.

"We're all on the same page right now," Sacks said. "Being in the playoffs should be our only focus. Beyond that, I'm sure that everything will fall into place at the appropriate time."

Del Negro led the Clippers to the franchise's best record (56-26) and first Pacific Division title.

Del Negro said all the questions about his future will get "answered at the end of the season."

Asked if his status has tugged at him, Del Negro said no because "I want the focus to be on the players."

Del Negro also mentioned that he and the Clippers had discussions about a contract extension, but that both sides agreed to talk after the season.

"There's been discussions early on," Del Negro said. "But nothing significant and we left it at that. Now it's time to focus in on the playoffs."

Crawford second

Despite having a very good season for the Clippers, Jamal Crawford finished second to the New York Knicks' J.R. Smith in voting for the NBA's sixth man of the year.

Crawford averaged 16.5 points, third-best on the team.

"Congrats to J.R. I think he had a heck of a season as well," Crawford said. "There were definitely guys who were deserving. [Golden State's] Jarrett Jack had a great season. [Oklahoma City's] Kevin Martin had a great season, J.R. and myself as well. So a salute to all those guys."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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