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Monday, May 6, 2013
Vinny Del Negro's future uncertain

By Arash Markazi
ESPNLosAngeles.com

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Three days after the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs after losing four straight games to the Memphis Grizzlies, Vinny Del Negro addressed the media as the team's head coach.

How much longer he will remain in that position, however, is in question -- even to him -- as he prepares to meet with team owner Donald Sterling at the end of this week.

"Those decisions are out of my hand," Del Negro said from the Clippers' training facility. "I'll meet with Mr. Sterling and we'll talk things through. We'll see where they're at and where I'm at and we'll move forward. I'm proud of what we've done. I'm proud of my staff and how hard they've worked and I know the organization is in a much better place today, and that makes me feel proud."

Del Negro's contract expires at the end of June, and the Clippers haven't had any discussions with him on an extension since the season began. The Clippers picked up the third and final year of Del Negro's contract after last season and Del Negro has been in a sort of audition, especially with Chris Paul becoming an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

"The front-office people will evaluate it," Del Negro said. "We'll get together and see where everything stands in terms of the comfort level that they have and that I have and make sure we're all pulling in the same direction and going in the same direction."

Clippers vice president of basketball operation Gary Sacks was still conducting exit interviews with players and coaches on Monday and said that he would take their feedback into consideration when deciding on the team's head coach.

"We do the exit interviews for a reason," Sacks said. "We want to have feedback from our players to hear what they have to say. Whatever we do, we do as an organization. Of course you're going to listen to your star players. You're going to listen to all your employees when you're making these decisions, but I don't think that's unusual."

There has always been a feeling that Paul's opinion, along with that of Blake Griffin, would hold a lot of weight when it came to deciding Del Negro's future -- which is something he did not disagree with.

"I think all that plays a part," Del Negro said. "I enjoy working with them. They're great guys and they're incredibly talented. They're the nucleus of the team obviously that you want to keep intact and move forward with. I've enjoyed working with them and have seen their development."

Sacks said it will all be factored into the decision but that no decision has been made yet.

"Obviously the feedback from our coaches, from our players will help us see moving forward what the best results will be," Sacks said. "That's all going to be something that we'll get together and we'll discuss. Nothing's been decided and we're still in the process of it."

Del Negro helped lead the Clippers to their first division title and a record 56 wins this season, and he looks forward to getting the chance to take the team to a higher level.

"We set every franchise record you can set so I'm proud of a lot of things that we did which had never been done," Del Negro said. "When I came here I was trying to create this, so the expectation is higher and the results need to be better, and as difficult as it is right now, I'm actually proud of that because that's the direction I want the team to go and the mindset I want the organization to have and the mindset I want to the players to have. It's not good enough and we can do better."