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Clippers want Chris Paul back, but what about Vinny Del Negro?

Although it's clear the team will make every effort to re-sign All-Star guard Chris Paul, Coach Vinny Del Negro's status is uncertain after first-round playoff exit.

May 07, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Vinny Del Negro has a record of 128-102 as coach of the Clippers.
Vinny Del Negro has a record of 128-102 as coach of the Clippers. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Gary Sacks, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations, said Monday he feels "very confident" that Chris Paul will sign a five-year, $107.3-million contract extension this summer to remain with the team.

Not surprisingly, Vinny Del Negro also said Monday he wants to remain as coach of the Clippers.

But does owner Donald Sterling, who will make the ultimate decision on who will coach the team, want Del Negro back after the Clippers' first-round playoff exit?

Do Clippers President Andy Roeser and Sacks want Del Negro back? Does director of basketball administration Eric Miller, Sterling's son-in-law, want Del Negro back? And do the players want Del Negro back?

When Del Negro and Sacks spoke at a news conference Monday, none of those questions were answered.

Del Negro and Sacks both said they would all probably meet with Sterling within the next week to discuss where the organization is headed.

Sacks said "nothing has been decided" on Del Negro's future.

"We'll get together to see where everything stands in terms of the comfort level that they have, the comfort level that I have and make sure we're all pulling in the same direction to improve over the summer and next season," said Del Negro, who just completed his third season as Clippers coach.

As for the potential timetable for a decision, Del Negro said "the sooner, the better" for all concerned. But he also said he understands that "some things take longer than you would hope."

Del Negro, 46, has a 128-102 regular-season record with the Clippers. Last spring the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1984.

After that season, Del Negro had his contract option for the 2012-13 season picked up by the team.

As The Times has reported, Del Negro and the team discussed a contract extension twice early this season. But both sides decided to wait until the season was over.

"We're in the evaluation process," Sacks said. "He and I will go over some things for the future and discuss with our owner and kind of see where we're at."

There are coaching openings in Detroit, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Charlotte, and there could be others.

As for Paul, the Clippers cannot begin negotiating a contract with him until he becomes a free agent July 1.

"The No. 1 priority for us right now has to be us signing our star player, Chris Paul," Sacks said. "That's our goal and that's what we want to do and we want to put ourselves in a position to do that."

Sacks said his exit interview with Paul on Saturday went well enough for the executive to think his All-Star point guard will return.

"I think he enjoys living here and being around L.A.," Sacks said. "Obviously, we enjoyed having him here and having him [as] part of this team."

Sacks was asked how much input Paul and Blake Griffin, the team's two All-Stars, would have in the coaching decision.

"Of course you are going to listen to your star players," Sacks said. "You're going to listen to all your employees and all your players when you make these kind of decisions."

Said Del Negro: "I think all that plays a part. But those are questions for them. I enjoyed working with them."

This season Clippers won their first Pacific Division title and had a franchise-best 56-26 record.

"We've set every franchise record," Del Negro said. "So I'm proud of a lot of things we did."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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