Del Negro out in L.A.? Chris Paul staying?

Five dribbles of fresh chatter from the NBA's coaching and personnel grapevines:

The consistent word in coaching circles is that the Clippers want to go "big" with their forthcoming coaching hire after what insiders continue to describe as the inevitable dismissal of Vinny Del Negro in the wake of L.A.'s first-round exit.

ESPN.com reported in April that Stan Van Gundy is near or at the top of that list. Coaching sources say the former Orlando coach, furthermore, has zero interest in the Milwaukee job and will only return to the bench next season if he gets a suitable offer from a contending team and/or a team he likes that's based in a warm-weather city.

Co-sign completely with the list of candidates introduced by Hall of Fame writer Mark Heisler on HoopsHype.com in the event that the Clips' interest in Van Gundy doesn't morph into something serious: The unemployed duo of Alvin Gentry and Byron Scott and Warriors assistant Mike Malone. Chris Paul is fond of all three.


All indications continue to suggest that Dwight Howard is far more likely to give serious thought to leaving Hollywood than Chris Paul.

One source close to the situation said this week that there are just "too many positives" for CP3 in L.A. even in the face of a hugely disappointing Round 1 exit when it seemed that the Clips had a clear path to the Western Conference finals thanks to their 2-0 series lead over Memphis and OKC's loss of Russell Westbrook.

Another source went so far as to predict that there's "zero chance" of Paul giving up the fifth year and nearly $30 million extra guaranteed that he can earn only by re-signing with the Clips. The strategy there: Take the money now and worry about finding a new home via trade later if the Clips can't build on this season's successes to establish themselves as true title contenders.

The Pistons, according to NBA coaching sources, are adding Houston Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff to the list of candidates they're considering to replace the ousted Lawrence Frank.

Ex-Sonics and Blazers coach Nate McMillan, interim Suns coach Lindsey Hunter and San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer are the candidates known to have interviewed for the job to date.

With members of the Hawks' coaching staff bracing for the firing of Larry Drew to the point that they privately already consider themselves "free agents," in the words of one source, two names have already emerged as prime targets for Hawks general manager Danny Ferry in the anticipated search for Drew's replacement: Budenholzer and Quin Snyder.

Both worked with Ferry in San Antonio; Snyder spent the past season in Russia as an assistant to European coaching legend Ettore Messina.

Drew is expected to receive consideration in Philadelphia and likely in other cities, too, after doing what is widely regarded as a quality job maxing out with an Atlanta roster filled with free agents this season.

Brooklyn's two-day-old coaching search has been dominated by the names that aren't on the list.

Ruled out of consideration already, after all were initially presumed to be on the Nets' list: Jeff and Stan Van Gundy, Mike Dunleavy and Nate McMillan.

Sources say you can also add Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson's name to that group out of the running. Sampson, though, does remain a top contender in Milwaukee and Charlotte.

The Nets also appear to be lukewarm on the idea of reaching out to Jerry Sloan, even after Nets star Deron Williams said he was open to a reunion with Sloan.

ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported Monday that Phil Jackson, Larry Brown and Brian Shaw are the only confirmed Brooklyn candidates to date, despite the fact Jackson -- top target of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov since Avery Johnson's ouster in December -- wants to return to the game in a Pat Riley-esque management capacity.

Broussard reported that Nets general manager Billy King understands that Jackson is not likely to come to Brooklyn to coach and is open to bringing Jackson into the front office.

Although Jackson is advising Detroit on its coaching hire, ESPN.com reported last week that the arrangement is unpaid and "an act of friendship" stemming from Jackson's relationship with Pistons owner Tom Gores. One source said this week that Jackson "specifically left it open" with the Pistons that he could talk to other teams while consulting the Pistons.