PHOENIX — Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro has ties to both the Phoenix Suns and newly-inserted interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. He got his post-player career started in Phoenix before coaching Hunter in Chicago a few years back.
Asked before the game about the situation in Phoenix, Del Negro did his best to remain PR-savvy.
“It’s the organization’s decision, they wanted to move forward,” the Clippers coach said. “You know, they had two very experienced assistants in Elston (Turner) and obviously a good friend of mine in Dan (Majerle), and that’s what they decided to do so. Those are their decisions, but being put in a situation in the middle of a season is never easy for anybody, especially you know, someone who hasn’t coached really and hasn’t been around in that seat. It’s going to be different but I’m sure he’ll handle it fine.”
- Hunter talked about his first coaching experience at Sacramento in his pregame media session. The former point guard didn’t go too in depth about Phoenix’s win against the Kings other than saying he was pleased with the effort from the Suns. He said it’s to be expected that there will be hiccups as the team learns new schemes.
- From a personal standpoint, Hunter said that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, SMU coach Larry Brown and Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson have called him since being promoted to give him their support. “When you get support from guys like that, you feel good,” Hunter said. “You know you have somebody who you can really talk to that’s doing it, that’s done it. It’s exciting. And I lean on those guys for advice.”
- As far as rotations go, Hunter said he’s maintained the motivational stance he had as player development coordinator in keeping all of his players ready. Such a case came in Sacramento, when foul trouble and Jermaine O’Neal’s absence forced Hunter to pull little-used forward Luke Zeller off the bench. Rookie Kendall Marshall was the only player who didn’t see time. Could he soon enough? “We want to play Kendall, and I’m sure we will,” Hunter said. “It’s hard working three point guards in there but if we can find a way to get him on the floor, when the opportunity presents itself, he’ll be out there.”
- With an “unstated” medical issue, O’Neal’s status has yet to be determined, and Hunter did not know if he will travel with the team on the next road trip that begins Saturday in San Antonio.