Vinny Del Negro won't return as the Clippers' head coach. (Mike Brown / European Pressphoto…)
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said “yes” in a text message when asked if he and the team had parted ways on Tuesday.
In his typical deliberate fashion, Clippers owner Donald Sterling waited until almost three weeks after the season was over to inform Del Negro that the team wasn’t going to give him a contract extension.
After the Clippers lost in the Western Conference first-round playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies, Sterling was unhappy with his coaching staff and decided to make the change.
The Clippers’ front office gave Sterling a large list of potential candidates so that the team could immediately begin the search for a new coach, according to NBA executives who said they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The Clippers had said after the season that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin would be consulted on a process for hiring a new coach.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer are the top candidates, one executive said.
Former Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry and Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw are being considered as well, another executive said.
ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy also is said to be a candidate.
Atlanta Coach Larry Drew, whose job status with the Hawks remains uncertain, is interested in the Clippers’ job, several executives said.
Scott coached Paul in his first three-plus seasons in the NBA with the Hornets.
Malone was an assistant coach under Hornets Coach Monty Williams when Paul played in New Orleans.
Gentry, who has interviewed for the head-coach opening with the Charlotte Bobcats, coached the Clippers for two-plus seasons until he was fired after posting a 19-39 record during the 2002-2003 season.
Del Negro's contract expires at the end of June.
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