Though he helped the Clippers to their best record in franchise history and back-to-back Western Conference playoff appearances, those weren’t enough for Vinny Del Negro to keep his job as coach of the team.
Del Negro said that being let go Tuesday was “hard to take,” but that he understood how the business of professional basketball works.
He said he was happy to help change the Clippers’ culture.
He also wanted to thank Clippers owner Donald Sterling, President Andy Roeser, Vice President of Basketball Operations Gary Sacks and director of basketball administration Eric Miller.
“You try not to ever be surprised, but it is a business,” Del Negro said in a phone interview from his home in Phoenix. “But I want to thank the fans, the organization and Mr. and Mrs. Sterling for giving me this opportunity.... I want to thank the players and my entire staff for their effort and support.”
Del Negro helped the Clippers to several historic marks during the 2012-13 season.
The Clippers won their first first Pacific Division championship and had a franchise-best 56-26 record.
They had a franchise-best 17-game winning streak, 16-0 during the month of December.
Over three years as coach of the Clippers, Del Negro had a 128-102 record.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done there, things that had never been done there before,” Del Negro said. “But it’s hard to take. I do think the organization is in a much better place. This is disappointing, but I also feel very fortunate. You move forward from here.”