These should be happy times for the Los Angeles Clippers. After making two straight playoff appearances and supplanting the Lakers as L.A.'s best team, the Clips are poised to find continued success in the coming years. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Eric Bledsoe make up a promising young core, Vinny Del Negro's incompetence is no longer an impediment, and they have the best chance at re-signing Chris Paul this summer. But don't underestimate odious man-slug Donald Sterling and his ability to ruin a perfectly good situation. So far this offseason, the Clippers' owner is off to a roaring start.
When the Clippers fired Vinny Del Negro—who is an objectively bad coach—a few weeks ago, Sterling groused to the Los Angeles Times about Del Negro's departure, and implied that the Clippers' star players were responsible for forcing Del Negro out. Here's Sterling answering a question about whether Del Negro was fired just to please Chris Paul:
I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true," Sterling said. "So I'd rather not say anything.
But you know, the coach did a really good job. I think he did. And I liked working with him. There are just factors that make life very complicated and very challenging.
And here's how he answered when asked if it was "off base" to assume that the players were calling the shots:
"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?"
Man, what an asshole. Predictably, sources close to Chris Paul are now telling ESPN's Chris Broussard that Paul is pretty upset with Sterling:
He's angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization," the source said. "Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you've gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He's very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny's firing. He had nothing to do with it.
Good job, Donald Sterling. Your historically awful team has finally crawled out of the muck and become a Western Conference contender, and you respond by needlessly alienating your team's best player in the name of loyalty to a coach who was not very good at his job. Even if Paul was the driving force behind Del Negro's firing, there is no reason to make him look bad by coming out and saying so publicly. But I guess logic doesn't really apply to a guy who thinks it's OK to heckle his own players.
And don't assume that Paul is just puffing his chest and not taking Sterling's slight seriously. Remember, Sterling isn't a run-of-the-mill rich bastard, but an actual piece of shit. Paul is smart, and he probably knows that a Donald Sterling-owned team is always just one step away from falling back into squalor and dysfunction. Playing with Blake Griffin is nice, but playing with James Harden in Houston and not having to deal with Sterling's bullshit would also be nice.
If Paul does decide to leave, it will be fun watching Sterling try and find someone to blame other then himself. Maybe it will be Clipper Darrell's fault.