Free Agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul Planning Atlanta Rendezvous?
JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Donald was a cottage industry for me in the days I wrote him open letters in the Los Angeles Times, offering to outline some basics… like that taking a meeting with your players to complain about your coach undermines his authority.

RIP, Don Casey.

Happily—at least for my schtick–Donald didn’t get anything I wrote, often telling me, “I didn’t understand what you meant.”

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As I used to note in my full-time employee days, it’s always dangerous when the Clippers reach the point at which Donald has to do something. For the last two seasons—the best in Clipper history—he had nothing harder to do than OK the trade for Paul and extend Blake Griffin.

Not that Del Negro deserves to be fired. It was just set up that way with his contract expiring as Paul’s did, to give CP3 a say on the hire, if he needed one more reason to stay.

Below the level of Donald, it was the Clipper plan for a year, since deciding to bring Vinny back this season, albeit without an extension, as a lame duck on an expiring contract.

Donald likes Vinny but let’s not get crazy. Actually, Donald likes Vinny more than any of his coaches including Mike Dunleay, whom he handed control of the basketball operations—even if Donald forgot to mention it to GM Elgin Baylor.

Unfortunately, after taking the Clippers to the second round, Dunleavy hit Donald up for a four-year $22 million extension. When the team sank like a stone, Dunleavy was raised to war criminal status in Sterling’s eyes. Trapped by his unwillingness to fire Dunleavy and pay him off, Donald settled for barbecuing him publicly, telling the Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers: “Do you think anybody loves their coach? They’re just a necessity.”

Dunleavy into a lame duck flambe for two more seasons before he was fired.

Sterling then insisted Dunleavy was never fired–despite a team announcement that he had been–a claim unmasked in arbitration where Donald was forced to come up every last nickel.

Some agents, like Warren LeGarie, who reps Dunleavy—and Hollins–now insist on arbitration clauses in any contract with the Clips.

Vinny is personable and low maintenance. He doesn’t need the boat rocked, or much of anything but the gig.

He could have arrived with “BARGAIN” stamped on his forehead. With Sterling cool to hiring Clipper officials’ candidate, Dwane Casey, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf recommended Vinny. With the money the Bulls owed him, Sterling only had to pay him $1.4 million in his first season.

So it’s not the first time Donald has spiked his peoples’ recommendation, or the second, or….

Unfortunately for Donald, if he’s an irresistible force, Paul is a movable object and it’s a bad time to shake his faith in the organization.

What, Donald worry? He’s reportedly convinced that CP3 can’t turn down the extra $27 million.

I’m also renouncing my statement that there’s no way CP3 can wind up with the Lakers.

Not that I can come up with any scenario. If Dwight leaves, the Lakers will still be over the cap so no signing him as a free agent.

The Clippers won’t trade him to the Lakes, not even for Howard.

I’m going out of the prediction biz for a while. With Donald in the middle, anything can happen.


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