Clippers' Donald Sterling admits players called shots on Vinny Del Negro decision

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers asked Clippers owner Donald Sterling if players like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were 'calling the shots,' and Sterling didn't deny it was true.

Chris Paul's apparent distaste for Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro had enough weight for the team not to retain the head coach. Multiple media outlets, including Yahoo! Sports and CBS Sports, reported that Paul didn't back the winningest coach in Clippers history, but Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers took the issue a step further by asking team owner Donald Sterling if that was true.

Then Sterling responded with surprisingly honest but questionable agreement.

"So I wonder, is this decision being made because the players are now calling the shots? Am I off base?" Simers asked.

"No, you're not off base," Sterling said. "This is a players' league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win you have to make the players happy. Don't you think that's true?"

Just last week, ESPN reported that Sterling was a strong supporter of Del Negro, even to the point that Los Angeles was mulling over the option of extending his contract that ended after this past season. Sterling told Simers that he was sad to let Del Negro walk and that their working relationship was a very good one, backing up that report. Del Negro offered to the Times columnist that he would have easily returned to the Clippers if they offered him a new contract, adding that he had a sound working relationship with his players.

In the end, it appears management overlooked its own wishes to appease the players and especially Paul, who is a free agent this summer.

If Sterling and the Clippers' front office continues to take heavy weight in its players' opinions, Paul's voice will likely be the loudest once again. The All-Star point guard's relationship with former head coach Byron Scott, who was fired from the Cavaliers this spring, and former assistant Mike Malone, now with the Warriors, makes for two potential candidates to be hired in Los Angeles.

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