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Does Vinny Del Negro think the Clippers have a problem with tension between their best players?
He talked about it before Sunday's game with the Lakers.
"There's always things that -- the frustration builds. There's no question. And Blake (Griffin) and Chris (Paul) especially are two of our All-Stars and our biggest pieces. I think it's also a good thing because there's some frustration there because we need to play better. If the frustration is everyone pulling in the same direction, it's a positive thing. And I feel that's the case. But it comes down to, enough talking. Go out and perform, go out and get the results that we expect. You have to be able to work together. The chemistry is very important. They have that. It hasn't been as consistent as any of us would like, lately. But it's something that I think the character in the locker room, and the people you're talking about, know that it's very important for everybody to be on the same page."
So what, if anything, is missing in terms of the chemistry as leaders between those two?
"I don't think the leadership is a question. I just think when you lose a couple tight games, or you're going through a tough patch, or you're handing injuries or inconsistent play, frustration can build up a little bit. Chris and Blake, obviously, the two All-Stars always have to be on the same page, and I feel they are. Blake has been battling a calf injury that has been much worse than I think anyone understands. He's feeling better, but we know he needs to play at a high level, and nobody understands that more than Blake. Blake is hard on himself, and knows he has to play well. As long as he gives great effort, usually great things happen, but with this calf injury that's been difficult lately."
To call those answers politically correct would be an understatement, but VDN says he's spoken with both of them about leadership and their relationship, making sure they're on the same page, and so on.
"There's not this big friction thing going on that everyone thinks," he said.
The Lakers have shown through the years that it's not all that important for stars to be besties off the floor, but they have to pull in the same direction on it. With the Clippers, though, the tension is not so much centered around whether the team will win as composed, but if the core will stay together long term.
That's a huge reason why relationship questions are particularly important.