In May, the Clippers picked up the option on Del Negro’s contract, giving him a third season as coach for about $2 million. Still, Del Negro, 46, enters the new season in the final year of his contract.

Sitting in his office Wednesday afternoon, Del Negro leaned back in his chair and said of his situation: “I think there’s always pressure, but I think that’s a position that you want to be in.

“My goal coming here was to help change the environment, change the culture and change the direction of the organization.”

Last season the Clippers went 40-26 in the regular season and Del Negro took them to the second round of the playoffs for just the second time since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1984.

All signs point to Del Negro’s leading the Clippers to back-to-back playoff appearances. If that happens, it will be for just the second time during the 32 years Donald Sterling will have owned the team. The Clippers last reached the postseason in consecutive years in 1992 and 1993 when Larry Brown was coach.

– Reported by Broderick Turner of theĀ Los Angeles Times