Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, hinted that he fired head coach Vinny Del Negro in an effort to keep star player and potential free agent Chris Paul.
"The coach is a wonderful man and I'm sad about the whole thing," Sterling told Times columnist T.J. Simers.
Paul made his opinion clear that he believed Del Negro was not the right coach or leader for the Clippers, and that appeared to be the final push for Sterling to let Del Negro go.
"Was this done," I asked, "just to hang on to Chris Paul?" Simers wrote.
To which Sterling replied. "I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true. 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."
But Sterling's willingness to let Del Negro go may backfire as Paul could still become a free agent this summer and potentially could go to another team.
The biggest question now is whether Paul finds it more important to stay with the Clippers and have a major voice in selecting the new coach, or does he enter the free agent market where several teams would likely make him a significant offer. According to a story on CBSSports.com, among teams seen as potentially being interested in Paul are the Rockets, Mavericks and Hawks.