California Dreaming

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 31, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported late Thursday evening that Chris Paul is ‘angry’ for being cast as the villain in the firing of Vinny Del Negro as coach.

How much of an impact this will have on Paul’s decision to re-sign with the Clippers as a free agent is not clear, but the source conceded that Paul’s anger could lead him to look elsewhere.

“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.”

- ESPN

Let’s first look at this from Chris Paul’s perspective. Why would he want to avoid being labeled as the guy who sent Del Negro out the door? It’s pretty obvious why he would want to steer clear of that. No matter how talented Deron Williams is, he’s been labeled as a coach killer for how things played out in Utah. There was an unstable situation brewing between the All-Star point guard and Jerry Sloan. The reputation is still associated with Williams and it’s something that Paul and his Hollywood image would want to avoid.

If he was unhappy about being labeled as the guy who kicked Del Negro to the curb, I’m guessing dollars to donuts that he’s not thrilled about this being fleshed out on a national scale. Is this story entirely true? That remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t help the Clippers’ case in ensuring that Paul re-signs with them.

“This is a players’ league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win, you have to make the players happy,” Clippers owner Donald Sterling told the LA Times on May 21. “If you have special players, and special players think that they know the best opportunity to win, you have to support them.”

That’s not exactly painting a picture that suggests the front office made the decision to let Del Negro go on their own. This all goes back to the case the Mavs have to make when it comes to their pursuit, albeit a shot in the dark one, for Paul: Donald Sterling doesn’t have the best interest of his players in mind.

Sure, the Clippers have made two runs in the playoffs over the last two years and they won their first division title, but you’re going to have to go rather far down the list before you get to Donald Sterling as the reason for the recent run of his team’s success. He’s been labeled as a cheap owner and has also had his name dragged through the mud in lawsuits. Racism, sexism, you name it, Sterling has been associated with it.

If you’re a Clippers fan, this is terrible news to hear. If anything, you just wish Sterling would go into exile, let someone hire a coach and come back in time to make sure Paul signs his deal with your team. The last thing you want to do when you’re trying to convince someone to pick your side is to tick them off. That’s exactly what Sterling has done in this situation.

On the other side of the coin, Mark Cuban has been labeled as one of the premiere owners in sports. He’s led the charge to turn an organization that was once a laughing stock into one of the most respected ones in the entire league. Despite the success, the Clippers are still seen as a joke of a franchise and Sterling is to blame for that. Whether it’s ethical or not, the Mavs will have to use this as ammunition when they deliver their sales pitch to Paul in early July when free agency begins.

Time will tell if Paul will be able to cool off and get over this situation, if it truly is one. The Clippers could select a head coach that caters to Paul. The problem is that history suggests it won’t be a top-tier coach, making the situation less than glamorous for Paul. One things is certain – the more that Donald Sterling opens his mouth, the more likely that Paul has to hesitate at the notion of staying with the Clippers.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.