In the wake of the Kings narrowing their list of coachi…

In the wake of the Kings narrowing their list of coaching candidates down to three finalists — Steve Clifford, Mark Jackson and Mike Brown — sources say they’ve begun the second and final round of interviews in Sacramento. The first round took place via Zoom, and general manager Monte McNair, assistant general manager Wes Wilcox and (now-departed) chief strategy officer Joe Dumars took part without Ranadivé’s involvement. As our Shams Charania reported Monday morning, Dumars — whom the Kings hired in June 2019 — has accepted a role as the league’s executive vice president, head of basketball operations.

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The final round of Kings interviews, which now includes Ranadivé, is in person in Sacramento. Clifford, the former Charlotte and Orlando coach who spent last season as a Brooklyn Nets consultant, interviewed Sunday and continued his visit Monday. Jackson, the former Golden State coach who spent the past eight years as an ESPN analyst and who was with the Warriors during Ranadivé’s time there as a minority owner, is up next. Brown, the Warriors associate head coach whose team is in Memphis for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday, is expected to present his vision for this team that went 30-52 last season later this week.
Shams Charania: Mark Jackson has emerged as a finalist for the Sacramento Kings head coaching job, sources tell me and @Sam Amick. Kings GM Monte McNair has begun to notify candidates whether they will move onto in-person meetings.
Domantas Sabonis said he’d like to give his input during the Kings’ coaching search, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Sacramento opted not to retain Alvin Gentry as the team’s head coach. “I would like to be part of it and talk to everyone,” Sabonis said. “Give them my input, what I think, what I’ve seen, what could work, what could help.”
Jason Anderson: On having input in the coaching search, Domantas Sabonis says: "I would like to be part of it and talk to everyone, give them my input, what I think, what I’ve seen, what could work, what could help."
“There would be no reason whatsoever to discuss it right now,” Gentry said. “The season is going to be over in the next two weeks and then from there, we’ll sit down and talk and figure out the direction that everything should be taken.”
But sources with knowledge of the Kings’ plans say Walton is not in any imminent trouble and — barring a complete nose-dive in the second half — is likely to last at least through this season. There is a strong sense in coaching circles that Kings associate head coach Alvin Gentry would likely take over if Walton were eventually dismissed, but that time does not appear to be coming anytime soon. Sources say Walton, who was hired by former general manager Vlade Divac in mid-April of 2019, is owed a combined $11.5 million in the next two seasons of his four-year guaranteed deal.
Jason Anderson: League sources tell me a four-year deal between coach Luke Walton and the @Sacramento Kings has been finalized after a face-to-face meeting today in Sacramento, but at this point it's unclear when a formal announcement will be made.
Luke knew the Kings job was out there. If his Lakers exit wasn’t mutual, it certainly should have been. People had quietly been telling him for weeks that if the Lakers put him on ice, Sactown would be a potential landing spot. Dave Joerger did a nice job there, winning 39 games and keeping Sacramento in the playoff hunt for most of the season, but he was out of step with the front office. Players had reportedly soured on his leadership. Joeger was fired Thursday.
Jason Anderson: I can confirm that @Sacramento Kings GM Vlade Divac has already reached out to Luke Walton in the first hour after he was fired by the @Los Angeles Lakers. Unclear if a meeting has been scheduled at this point.
Marc Stein: The Kings have formally requested an interview with Luke Walton, as @Sam Amick just tweeted, and also intend to request permission from the Spurs to interview San Antonio assistant coach Ettore Messina, according to league sources
Brad Turner: Lakers announce they and Luke Walton have mutually agreed to part ways. Look for Walton to become a top candidate for Sacramento Kings head coaching job.
Sam Amick: As expected, source tells @TheAthletic that Kings GM Vlade Divac will now reach out to Luke Walton to schedule an interview now that his Lakers days are done. As I reported yesterday, Walton is Divac's first choice for this job.
“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” said Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I want to thank Dave for his contributions to our team and I wish him all the best.”
Tension between management and Joerger on playing time for certain young players and relationship strains impacted Divac's decision, sources said. Still, most around the NBA believed the team's rapid improvement under Joerger and significant overperformance based on preseason expectations would have forced the organization to consider a contract extension.
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Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.