March 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro in the second half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center. Clippers won 103-86. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Donald Sterling Expresses Warm Support for Vinny Del Negro

Clippers owner Donald Sterling spoke before Monday’s game against the New Orleans Hornets that he doesn’t anticipate making a coaching change, and that Vinny Del Negro will likely be the coach for the rest of the season.

“I like him,” said Sterling. “I usually follow the advice of my people, and I think they care for him, like him and want him to succeed. And I think he will.”

A internet report last week implied that Del Negro “has lost the team” and players no longer “want to play hard for him”, but all of that was news to Sterling.

“I don’t know where all these stories are coming from; nobody talked to me,” Sterling said. “Everything is good. Would I like more wins? I’d like more. I’d like the players to develop more; I’d like to play better. But then I have great expectations, and to a certain extent they’ve been realized. To some extent they haven’t, but I’m a patient guy.”

The Playoffs loom ahead for the Clippers, and their performance there will likely determine what Del Negro’s future role with the team will be. The Clippers also have the spectre of Chris Paul’s contract(only good through next year) looming and the idea he might leave must weigh heavy on Sterling’s head.

The Clippers also have the opportunity to offer Griffin a five-year contract beginning July 1 for a maximum of $94 million.

“Chris Paul will be with me for a lifetime,” Sterling said. “And Blake will too. I’m not going to ever let these guys go. They are max players, and so you’re going to pay that and keep them.”
But will they keep him?

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