Sacramento Kings Fire Head Coach Mike Malone


Mike Malone has been fired by the Sacramento Kings, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Malone, 43, coached the Kings to a 28-54 record last season in his rookie year with Sacramento. He was the 25th head coach in the franchise’s history, 14th since the move to Sacramento from Kansas City.

The son of 47-year coaching veteran Brendan Malone, Michael Malone is a highly regarded basketball coach known for his defensive strategies and his 20-years of experience as an assistant for several collegiate and NBA teams.

Going into the 2014-15 season, not many expected the Kings to begin on a surprising 9-6 record, which included an early five-game winning streak coming at the expense of the Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets (twice) and Phoenix Suns.

Sacramento’s solid start to the season certainly came as a shock. While some credit is due to the front office and coaching staff for helping in rounding out the team and developing their youth, most people still didn’t consider the Kings to be a playoff contender this season.

The Kings may have beaten some of the top teams in a tough Western Conference early on, but after just 15 games, many feel it would be insane to assume this roster is a legitimate playoff contender this year.

Apparently, Sacramento’s top brass doesn’t feel the same way.

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Despite DeMarcus Cousins being sidelined for the past nine games, Wojnarowski cited that one of the reasons behind the firing had been Malone’s inability to meet the “win-loss expectations of ownership.” Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports added that the source said that “management was disappointed with player development, game plans and adjustments.”

Yahoo also initially alluded to the lack of a strong relationship between Malone and Kings general manager, Pete D’Alessandro, as possibly playing into Malone’s firing. Wojnarowski later elaborated, stating that Malone simply didn’t share the collective vision of D’Alessandro and hands-on majority owner, Vivek Randivé.

Ranadivé, a multimillionaire software tycoon and former minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, has wanted his team to play at a faster pace than they have been playing under Malone — a desire shared by D’Alessandro. Ranadivé also unrealistically expects his team to be a playoff contender this season.

Ranadivé recently made headlines after he pitched the idea of a 4-on-5 defense to leave a cherry picker in the backcourt, an absurd idea that was likely shot down by the defense-minded Malone. Malone also notably took a stance against the Kings’ failed attempt at trading for Josh Smith this past offseason.

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According to Wojnarowski, league sources had said that Malone took the head coaching position in Sacramento despite fearing a slow start would ultimately cost him his job. Kings are currently 11-13 and just 2-7 since Cousins was diagnosed with viral meningitis and subsequently admitted to a local hospital for treatment and rest.

Assistant Tyrone Corbin, former head coach of the Utah Jazz, is expected to step in as interim head coach until a new head coach is determined.

Names of possible replacement coaches are being floated around, most prominently former Nuggets coach, George Karl, and former Clippers coach, Vinny Del Negro. Also being named as a possibility is former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, whom Malone served under as one of the best and highest paid assistant coaches in the NBA for two seasons.

Malone had three years left on his $9.4 million contract.