Sacramento Kings Ready to Start Clean with a New Head Coach

Apr 11, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach George Karl calls a timeout in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Sacramento Kings won 105-101. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach George Karl calls a timeout in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Sacramento Kings won 105-101. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sacramento Kings are ready to move, not just into a new arena, but on to a new head coach as well.

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With the season finale on the horizon, the Sacramento Kings are ready to move into their new home arena, the state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center, and will likely be doing so with yet another new head coach. The Kings wrap up another disappointing season on Wednesday in Houston against the Rockets, and according to the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones, they will cut ties with head coach George Karl after just about a season-and-a-half with the team.

After going 11-19 with Karl at the helm during the end of the 2014-2015 season, the Kings overhauled their roster and brought some big pieces in, including Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, and Kosta Koufos. And the Kings did improve this season with that new roster, surpassing 30 wins for the first time since the 2007-2008 season, but it wasn’t what the team and fans were expecting. Visions of playoffs danced in their heads, but the Kings find themselves on the outside looking in for the 10th straight year, and are now ready to move on to their 10th coach in 11 years.

Coach Karl’s style of play never seemed to fit with the Kings, and during his brief tenure in Sacramento he made more enemies than friends. He and Kings’ superstar center DeMarcus Cousins never really saw eye-to-eye, and it was Karl who seemed to spearhead a movement to trade Cousins before the past season began. He also had some less-than-kind words about the team’s first-round draft pick Willie Cauley-Stein, and guard Seth Curry, who played extremely well down the stretch in an expanded role.

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According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Kings have already been tied to a number of people who could be Karl’s replacement going forward. They are already considering former Houston Rockets’ leading mean Kevin McHale, who was controversially let go by the team on November 18th last year, Vinny Del Negro, a former Kings’ player that has coached the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Clippers, and Mark Jackson, the current ESPN analyst who was the Golden State Warriors’ headman during the first two of their current four-season playoff streak.

McHale spent four full seasons as the Rockets’ head coach, and the former Boston Celtics’ All-Star led the Rockets to the playoffs in each of the last three years. In 2014-2015, his Rockets lost in the Conference Finals to the eventual champion Warriors. Overall, McHale has a 232-185 (.556 winning percentage) coaching record in the regular season, and a 13-16 record (.448) in the playoffs.

Del Negro was drafted by the Kings as a second-rounder in 1988, and played two of his 12 seasons in the NBA with the Kings. His head coaching career began in 2008, when he took the reigns of the Chicago Bulls. After two .500 seasons with Chicago, Del Negro was dismissed and moved on to the Los Angeles Clippers. His contract was not renewed after the 2012-2013 season, when the 56-26 Clippers blew a two-game lead in the first round of the playoffs. Del Negro is 210-184 (.533) in the regular season, and 10-19 (.345) in the playoffs.

Jackson, a former NBA Rookie of the Year and All-Star, was the Warriors’ head coach for three season, starting in the 2011-2012 season. Over the final two seasons of his tenure, the Warriors were playoff teams for two straight seasons, the first time the team made the playoffs in consecutive years in over two decades. In his career, Jackson owns a 121-109 (.526) record, with a 9-10 (.474) mark in the playoffs.

The Kings have also been tied to Tom Thibodeau and Scotty Brooks, but have acknowledged the competition to win their services will be “fierce“. Thibodeau, once one of the hottest assistant coaches on the market, coached the Bulls for five seasons, leading them to winning records and playoff berths each year. Thibodeau owns a 255-139 record (.647), and is considered one of the best defensive minds in the business, which should be extra appealing for a Kings’ team that allowed the most points in the NBA last season, and finished in the bottom-five in opponent shooting. He is also known to rub players the wrong way at times.

Brooks is the former head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and led the team to the playoffs in five of his six full seasons at the reins, including two Conference Finals appearances. Brooks had the luxury of coaching two superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but after an injury-stricken season in 2014-2015, he was let go. After a year off, he will be a hot commodity for teams searching for a new coach.

Whoever takes over the job will be the Kings’ 10th head coach since they walk Rick Adelman walk following the 2005-2006 season. The team is still looking for someone who can replicate the success of Adelman, who led the team to a 395-229 record (.633) in eight seasons, and made the playoffs each season.

Next: Where Do the Kings Go From Here?

The Kings are making the right choice by moving in a new direction. The Karl era didn’t really start very well, and it certainly didn’t end well either. Now, the Kings can wipe the slate clean and start over when they move to the new arena next season.