Clippers need to learn how to live with success

Coach Vinny Del Negro brought this team to where it is and they need to keep him, not let him slip through their fingers.

SACRAMENTO — The cow bell crowd came to beg some more for NBA attention, maybe the last Kings' game to be contested on this prairie before a move to Seattle.

But there was the real possibility the energy in this graveyard might raise the Kings from the dead, thereby sending the Clippers to Memphis to begin the playoffs.

However, this has been the best regular season in Clippers' history, with Wednesday night's 112-108 victory the exclamation point.

While the local yokels remained here in their seats long after the game was over, chanting, "Here we stay," there's a lot more basketball to be played in Los Angeles.

But now only the playoffs remain before Clippers' management begins messing with success and chooses not to rehire Vinny Del Negro as coach.

You think I'm kidding?

Hey, only the Clippers until they prove otherwise.

The franchise, that has known only losing, is still new to success and what it will take to maintain it. And it's beginning to show.

There are already names being floated around the league on who might replace Del Negro, shockingly absurd when you consider Del Negro has a winning record as Clippers' coach.

And where do you find one of those guys?

I could locate only one other in their Los Angeles history, Larry Brown, and yet Del Negro still has a better winning percentage.

Del Negro's name should probably be mentioned in consideration for coach of the year honors. He hired, and in some cases negotiated the contracts, of almost everyone who is sitting on the Clippers' potent bench.

And then he kept them happy all season long.

His team swept the Lakers this season, won a division title and recorded 56 wins in a Western Conference rich with worthy opponents.

But there's a feeling within the Clippers that the players and the organization could do better with someone else.

I'd suggest a psychiatrist.

The front office turned sour on Del Negro earlier this season when he chatted with Celtics' boss Danny Ainge about a deal to acquire Kevin Garnett. They felt it wasn't his place to do so.

Hard feelings remain.

Del Negro also isn't as sold on keeping DeAndre Jordan as the front office is, and so there are grounds for continued conflict. If I knew the name of the team's wallflower general manager, I would tell you.

Andy Roeser remains Donald Sterling's top aide, but he's lost much of his influence now that Sterling's son-in-law, Eric Miller, has joined the team in training as possibly Sterling's heir apparent.