It’s hard to imagine now, with the Clippers riding the wave of a 17-game winning streak after a 107-96 victory Sunday over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, but coach Vinny Del Negro was sitting on a rather hot seat going into 2012-13.
Because the Clippers assembled the most talented roster in their history during the offseason and because expectations were higher than ever before after a second-round playoff appearance last spring, Del Negro’s future beyond this season was in doubt.
A poor start to the season could have led to the possibility of a coaching change. But the longest streak in the NBA in four years coupled with the league’s best overall mark at 25-6 pretty much ended any chance the Clippers would make a move.
Del Negro declined to take any credit for the Clippers’ scalding start to the season, saying the NBA isn’t a coaches’ league but a players’ league. He also said, “Players win games, coaches lose games. It’s the way it is. I just go about my business how I think is best-suited for the team.”
“The (players) have to buy into what we’re trying to do, and they have,” he continued when asked about his role in the team’s success. “We’re getting a lot of different contributions from guys and that’s been the reason we’ve been able to keep this streak going.”
No question, the players bought what Del Negro was selling right from the start. He acknowledged the difficulty of balancing egos and blending talents after an offseason roster overhaul last summer, but so far there have been no locker room revolts.
“When you’re winning sometimes things look better than they are,” Del Negro admitted. “But we just want to play well and improve throughout the year. I’m pleased with the way the guys stuck together the other night (when the Clippers rallied from a 19-point deficit to defeat the Jazz). That’s what we’ve been doing the whole month.”