The Los Angeles Clippers have selected Vinny Del Negro as their new head coach, sources close to the situation said on Tuesday.
Del Negro takes over a team that went 29-63 last season under Mike Dunleavy, who was fired in February, then interim replacement Kim Hughes.
The Clippers brought in their finalists for interviews twice over the past two weeks. Along with Del Negro, the organization gave Dallas Mavericks assistant and former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Dwane Casey a close look. Del Negro and Casey were the two finalists for the Chicago job two years ago. Again, on this occasion, Del Negro got the nod.
For the past two seasons, the 43-year-old Del Negro served as Chicago’s head coach, where he strung together consecutive 41-41 seasons along with two first-round playoff appearances before being fired on May 3. Prior to his stint on the Bulls’ bench, Del Negro moved from the Suns’ broadcast booth to spend two seasons in the Phoenix Suns front office, first as director of player personnel and then as assistant general manager.
The Clippers are undergoing a rapid transformation both in the front the office and in the locker room. General manager Neil Olshey will begin his first full season as the club’s general manager. The team will feature at least three rookies — 2009 No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin, Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu and Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe. The only two players on the current Clippers roster older than 21 are Baron Davis and Chris Kaman.
Olshey and team president Andy Roeser met with LeBron James in Cleveland last Friday. The Clippers are one of only a few NBA teams that have sufficient flexibility under the salary cap to offer a maximum contract to James or another marquee free agent. Widely considered long shots to land James or one of the other big names, the Clippers are more likely to proceed into the free agency season with an eye toward building around their young core.