Multiple league sources tell CBS Sports that at least four head coaching jobs are expected to become vacant in the coming days or weeks, with Washington’s Randy Wittman likely to be the first to go on Thursday or Friday. The other non-interim coach on the rocks is George Karl, who, unless the Kings suddenly change course and agree to trade All-Star DeMarcus Cousins this summer, appears to be a goner, sources say.
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The Kings are unlikely to have success pursuing the top coaches on the market, which include Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks. None of the three has interest in the Kings job, league sources said.
Karl is aware of the timing of the Thursday dismissal, sources said. Unlike the firing of coach Michael Malone in December 2015 – a unilateral, solo choice by owner Vivek Ranadive – the dismissal of Karl is a broader decision of ownership and top basketball executive Vlade Divac. Karl is owed $5 million-plus on the balance of his contract.
The issues between Karl and the players nearly led to the coach’s firing in February, and this time, financial reasons or a chat with general manager Vlade Divac won’t save his job after Wednesday’s game. Multiple league sources have indicated Karl will be fired Thursday. The sources would not go on the record because they are unauthorized to speak on the matter.
The Sacramento Kings are planning to fire head coach George Karl on Thursday, sources have confirmed to ESPN. The Sacramento Bee first reported Wednesday that Karl will be fired one day after the Kings’ season finale against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
SportsCenter: THIS JUST IN: Kings are planning to fire coach George Karl on Thursday after the season ends. (via @sacbee_news)
Karl’s firing seemed imminent before the All- Star break. Divac assured the coach before the Kings’ final game before the break that was not the case. “I know it’s going to sound crazy, but the balance in my life, I’m pretty balanced right now,” Karl said. “Were there days I thought I was gone? Probably. It wasn’t all day, it might have been a moment, a comment, a phone call.”
DeMarcus Cousins, via David Aldridge, NBA.com On George Karl – That’s my coach, and that is who I play for. There isn’t an issue, that is who I play for.
On Vlade Divac saying Karl will coach the rest of the season (I’m not sure Divac actually said or meant this, but …) I’m tired of it. Stop trying to make a story out of it, we’re fine. Our only goal this season is to make the playoffs. That’s it. All the other stuff, just stop, it’s not necessary. Context is kind of important, because on the surface these comments read a little colder than they looked on video, which you can check out here. Cousins seemed in good spirits during the Aldridge interview, laughing, kind playing it off, etc. I just thought he handled that extremely well. Diplomatic.
His interview with Yahoo’s The Vertical was slightly less comfortable, which isn’t surprising because Yahoo hasn’t exactly been kind to the Kings or Cousins, but in response to what boils down to a ‘Kings drama’ question, Cousins told The Vertical – That’s our coach, so that’s what we’re rolling with. Our only thing is we want to win games and make it to the playoffs, so I’m with it (him)?
If they don’t, is he worried he’ll be out of a job? “When you’re younger, I think you’re always a little more into what people are saying and what people are thinking,” he said. “But as you get older, I think you learn you have no control over that. You can do your job perfectly. From the standpoint of the encyclopedia, you can do your job perfectly in this league, and if you don’t win and don’t fulfill expectations, you’re gonna be criticized. When you sign the contract, that’s the job you’re signing up for. I try to stay in my world. I love my world. My world is exciting to me, and this team is still exciting to me.”
When the discussion ended, Karl vowed to end the drama (for now) that seems to always surround the organization. “We talked about the team, talked about the trade deadline situations and talked about going forward in a positive way, in a committed, connected way,” Karl said after the Kings’ shootaround on Wednesday morning. “I feel good with Vlade. I always have felt good with Vlade. I don’t think Vlade and I have had a disconnect other than we want to win more games than we’re winning right now. That’s fine with me. Everybody should want to win more than we’re winning right now.”
Jason Jones: George Karl: “I don’t me and Vlade have had a disconnect other than we want to win more games than we’ve won.”
Jason Jones: George Karl said after morning shootaround that at his age he doesn’t let rumors bother him and his focus stays on basketball.
After a blowout loss to Brooklyn last week, Jackson’s co-host mentioned that Karl was hired after last year’s All-Star break. Jackson countered, “It can be post-All-Star break that he can leave, too. There ain’t nothing wrong with it. It’s just the business.” It was quite the missive from a member of the Kings family. “It’s my opinion that he should be fired or suspended,” Karl’s agent, Warren LeGarie, told the Register in an email. “(There’s) no place for that in a legitimate organization.” As of Monday, the Kings had given no official response to Jackson’s comments.
The atmosphere inside the Kings locker room, one source with knowledge of the team said, can be best described as “poisonous.” It is under that cloud that coach George Karl is surviving, if barely. ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon that Karl has staved off firing once again, but another go at this tenuous relationship is not really going to change that dynamic, which has been present in one form or another through the long line of coaches — eight in total — the Kings have gone through in the last decade.
George Karl’s agent, Warren LeGarie, told the Register in an email that Bobby Jackson should be fired or suspended. “(There’s) no place for that in a legitimate organization,” he said. A prominent coaching agent, LeGarie also represents D’Antoni and quickly recalls Worthy’s criticisms. He said analysts’ criticism can have real impact. “They condition their audience, which ultimately influences the management,” he said.
Warren LeGarie pointed out that Bobby Jackson is close to Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic, former teammates and two of the top three decision-makers in Sacramento. “It’s way more transparent when you know the cast of characters involved and way more obvious then,” LeGarie said. “Except to the fans who take what they say as gospel.”
Sean Cunningham: Vlade Divac said they’ll reassess things at the end of the season
Marc J. Spears: Quote from Kings head coach George Karl’s agent: “If they let George do his job and coach this team like he’s done in the past, they will get what they are both always seeking, respectability as a team and organization,” said agent Warren Legarie, who represents George Karl, to Yahoo! Sports.
The Sacramento Kings will keep George Karl as their head coach despite several reports that he could be fired during the NBA All-Star break. Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a statement released Tuesday that Karl would not be dismissed. “George will remain our coach. We are collectively working out our issues,” Divac said in the statement. Divac called Karl while the coach was at lunch in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Divac told Karl in a roughly five-minute conversation that they would work together and that better defense was needed. Karl took the lunch-time call privately with the expectation that he would be fired, a source told Yahoo Sports.
A person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports that it’s highly unlikely Karl will be fired during the All-Star break, meaning he gets to coach at Philadelphia on Wednesday before reassessing the sordid state of his team during the break. The Kings’ schedule from there is quite ironic, as they host the Denver Nuggets and former Kings coach Michael Malone on Feb. 19 only to then play at the Nuggets on Feb. 23. The Kings’ decision to fire Malone in Dec. 2015, of course, led to their latest dysfunctional episode.
There is a financial component hear that is coming into play as well, as Karl is known to be owed approximately $10 million on his contract. A move with that large of a price tag means the team’s minority owners would have to be involved in the decision, as it would potentially require a capital call from investors beyond Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive. Yet despite an ESPN.com report on Monday night indicating that a decision had been made, those discussions had not taken place. By the next morning, Divac was telling the basketball world that Karl would not be fired. Not yet, anyways.
Karl is 33-50 as head coach of the Kings after being hired nearly a year ago. The Kings (21-31) have playoff aspirations, but have lost four straight games and eight of nine. “He is not a quitter,” a source close to Karl told Yahoo Sports, adding that Karl never had any intention of resigning during the recent turmoil. Divac and Karl spoke in-depth Tuesday about improving the team’s defense, a source told Yahoo. The Kings are last in the NBA in points allowed at 109.1 per game and last in opponent 3-pointers made at 10.7. Sacramento plays its final game before the All-Star break Wednesday at Philadelphia.
Sam Amick: Being told it’s highly unlikely George Karl will be fired during All-Star break. In meeting with Vlade in Philly, he agreed to renew efforts
Sam Amick: Points of emphasis in several recent Vlade-Karl discussions:3-pt D, transition D, lackluster effort. Vlade would prefer Karl survives season
The Sacramento Kings, in a dramatic about-face, have decided against firing coach George Karl after a Tuesday morning meeting between Karl and Kings general manager Vlade Divac, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN that, after Karl pledged to make some changes to address longstanding concerns about his defensive schemes and practice policies, Divac has decided to back the embattled coach.
Marc J. Spears: Kings GM Vlade Divac had a lengthy meeting with head coach George Karl this morning in which improving defense was the most notable topic.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Kings never decided to fire Karl, which is why…they didn’t fire him. Ranadive leaned toward dismissal, but Divac talked him out of it.
Marc Stein: ESPN sources say that the Sacramento Kings, in a dramatic about-face, have decided to keep George Karl in place as coach .
Marc Stein: The Kings scrapped plans to fire George Karl after lengthy meeting Tuesday in Philly between Karl and GM Vlade Divac, sources told ESPN
Marc Stein: In a statement to ESPN, Kings GM Vlade Divac said: “George is our coach and we’re collectively working through our issues.”
League sources said the Kings will fire coach George Karl in the coming days amid the team’s worst stretch this season. The sources said Karl will not keep his job beyond the All-Star break. The Kings’ final game before the break is Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
After firing Michael Malone and Tyrone Corbin last season, the Kings hired Karl at the All-Star break to provide stability. But that hasn’t been the case, dating to Karl’s feud with center DeMarcus Cousins last summer. Several players also have been unhappy with Karl’s coaching style. Assistant coach Corliss Williamson, a former teammate of Kings general manager Vlade Divac and the lone holdover from Malone’s staff, is a logical choice to be interim coach.
The Sacramento Kings are going ahead with a coaching change and plan to fire George Karl in coming days, league sources told ESPN. NBA coaching sources told ESPN that the Kings have decided internally that a change on the bench is needed, and is most likely to happen after Sacramento plays its final game before the All-Star break Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
After Sacramento’s listless 120-100 loss Monday night in Cleveland, with Karl’s dismissal increasingly regarded as an inevitability in league coaching circles, sources said that the decision to proceed with a change on the bench is being made by Kings general manager Vlade Divac.
Sources said Ranadive, who took ownership of the Kings in May 2013, has left the decision whether to fire Karl or keep him in place fully with Divac. The owner twice bucked NBA convention by hiring a coach — first Mike Malone, then Karl — before hiring his GM.
Although final details continue to be worked out, former Kings forward Corliss Williamson remains the overwhelming favorite to take over as interim coach, as ESPN reported early Saturday.
But Divac, sources said, is only seeking an interim coach for now and wants to take his time with a proper coaching search in hopes of bringing some much-needed stability to the position and the organization.
Sources said rising dismay both within the front office and among players with Karl’s defensive schemes, practice policies and general leadership have had a demoralizing effect on the players, who have slumped into a 1-8 funk in the wake of a recent five-game winning streak that briefly had Sacramento in the West’s eighth playoff spot.
Marc Stein: ESPN sources say that the Sacramento Kings are going ahead with a coaching change and plan to fire George Karl in coming days
The front office’s confidence in Karl has almost completely eroded, league sources told The Vertical. The end could come Monday in Cleveland, Wednesday in Philadelphia, or some time over the All-Star break. Sacramento is reeling, losers of seven of its last eight and has surrendered a stunning 256 points in its last two games.
Players have tuned out Karl, privately seething over inefficient practices and shootarounds, and ineffective in-game adjustments from the bench, league sources told The Vertical. The dysfunction may have originated with Karl and DeMarcus Cousins, but it has spread through the locker room like an infection. Indeed, barring a surprising turn of events, it’s more likely assistant coach Corliss Williamson finishes the season as the Kings head coach than Karl.
Ranadive will soon be on the hunt for a new coach, though don’t be surprised if interest in the Kings’ gig is lukewarm. “One of 30 jobs in the world” is a popular cliché spouted by recently hired coaches, yet Ranadive has made it 29 and a “Well, if I have to” proposition. Established coaches won’t touch the Kings’ job while rising assistants like Atlanta’s Kenny Atkinson or Boston’s Jay Larranaga won’t run toward it either. Coaches with options don’t fight to work for management that refuses to support the people it hires, and they don’t sign on with an owner who seems more interested in the cache that comes with owning an NBA team than the business of operating one.
Sam Amick: You never know with Kings, but George Karl’s camp expects him to survive at least until AS break. At Boston 2-nite, Cavs tmrw, Philly Tues.
Kings point guard Rajon Rondo said he hasn’t paid much attention to the chatter surrounding his coach. “I haven’t heard it,” said Rondo. “I talked to my agent this morning, but it was just about how the team is doing, how the team morale was. But I haven’t bought into it or read into too much of [the Karl reports]. It’s just part of the business. Coaches fired, players being traded — there’s no difference.”
Marc Stein: As ESPN reported earlier, Sacramento hoped to get to the All-Star break before deeply weighing Karl’s future. But the George Watch is on now
Jay King: George Karl: “I don’t think I’m in limbo. I think I’ve got a heck of a challenge (against) a team that’s played damn well (the Celtics).”
Jason Jones: Karl on job rumors: “it’s not my storm. My storm is the Boston Celtics.”
Jay King: George Karl said no convos with management: “I don’t have any control over what other people are thinking or saying. That’s their storm.”
Marc Stein: The Kings are on the practice floor in Boston this afternoon and, according to NBA coaching sources, George Karl is indeed running practice.
Yet while former head coaches like Scott Brooks, Tom Thibodeau and Mark Jackson are known to have been on the Kings’ radar for quite some time and are currently available, firing Karl now would complicate the process of conducting a more thorough coaching search. The Kings play at the Boston Celtics on Sunday, at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday and at the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday before the All-Star break. Whether or not Karl makes it that long remains to be seen.
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Vlade Divac were so livid about a blowout defeat to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night – the franchise’s sixth loss in seven games – they were strongly weighing the firing of coach George Karl, league sources told The Vertical. “An overreaction to the loss” was how one league source involved in the conversations on Karl’s job status described the organization’s response late Friday night.
As hours passed following the 128-119 loss to the Nets, there were indications that Karl could be spared long enough to coach the Kings on Sunday in Boston. Nevertheless, Karl has rapidly lost support in management and some parts of the locker room, league sources told The Vertical.
Less than two weeks after the Sacramento Kings’ five-game winning streak had them in position to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, all the familiar signs of discontent returned after a 128-119 loss at the Brooklyn Nets and, for the second time this season, their head coach’s future is clearly being debated internally. The lackluster loss was the Kings’ sixth in the last seven games, dropping them 3½ games behind the eighth-place Portland Trail Blazers and prompting all sorts of curious comments from Kings players and former players alike.
Marc Stein: ESPN sources say Kings hoped to delay talks about George Karl’s future until All-Star break, but Friday’s loss in Brooklyn sped up timetable
One possibility in the event of a coaching change, sources said, is elevating assistant coach and former Kings forward Corliss Williamson to interim coach. But USA TODAY reported early Saturday that the significant guaranteed money still owed on Karl’s contract could factor into Sacramento’s decision-making.
“I’m not going to keep blaming these guys in the locker room,” Cousins told reporters. “Energy and effort is a huge part of the game, but I’m not going to keep blaming it on that. We’ve got a bigger issue, and we need to figure it out as a team. “I’d rather keep (the undescribed issue) in house, but we definitely have a bigger issue than just energy and effort. That can’t be the excuse every night. … We’re going to work it out as a team, and hopefully we can fix this.”
Ric Bucher of Bleacher: The belief still is it’s a matter of when, not if, Karl will be removed as the head coach. If that should happen during this season, the short-term answers are, according to owner Vivek Ranadivé – or sources say – he would like to move Nancy Lieberman into the head-coaching position, making a big splash by having the first female head coach in NBA history. Vlade Divac, the GM is more inclined to fill with Corliss Williamson for the remainder of the season. But Ranadivé’s biggest dream is to have Kentucky coach John Calipari come out and coach this roster full of Kentucky players.
A league source with knowledge of the situation insists to ProBasketballTalk there is no validity to the claims the Kings will make a huge offer to Calipari next summer. Whether Calipari wants to leave Kentucky is another question entirely. He may be happy just to leverage the rumors into another raise, then stay where he is king.
A league source with knowledge of the situation continues to insist that there is no validity whatsoever to reports linking John Calipari to the Kings. The source added that Bucher’s report is “based on rumor, innuendo and hearsay.” Yes, Ranadivé has had conversations with the former New Jersey Nets coach in the past, but they have been nothing more than friendly in nature and did not include an official offer. But again, this was during the summer.
There have been stories with anonymous sources speculating about Karl’s drive and energy — cheap shots by the faceless at a 63-year-old two-time cancer survivor. No, Karl doesn’t rant and rave like he used to. That’s a good thing, both for the team and for his health. Yes, he delegates and defers. That’s also a good thing. Karl put a deep, diverse and talented staff together, one that includes strong assistants like Chad Iske and Vance Walberg, former players Anthony and Corliss Williamson and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. Karl doesn’t need to burnish his bona fides, not after 1,146 career coaching victories. If anything, it’s the Kings that should have to prove to him that they’re worth coaching.
Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac has strongly insisted that coach George Karl’s job is secure amid mounting frustrations and locker room tension. “George’s job is not in jeopardy. Absolutely not,” Divac told reporters Wednesday. “Nothing has changed. I believe in him. I believe he is good for us. Yes, we struggle, but you can see the way we played tonight, we have the talent, and we will turn this around.”
“I never asked the players if I should fire Coach or said I was thinking of doing that,” Divac said. “I walked into the locker room after the game and said, ‘OK, you guys don’t want to play with Coach? What’s the problem?’
Still, sources on both sides believe the relationship is salvageable, at least for the rest of this season. Cousins wants to win and he knows playing for a fourth coach in the last two years isn’t going to get him any closer to it. He has made it clear to Kings executives that he doesn’t want Karl fired, according to sources. And Karl understands he can’t meet ownership’s expectations without him.
Kurt Helin: From what I hear don’t expect a Cousins trade, if the owner has to choose it will be Karl out the door. He sees Boogie as cornerstone piece.
Sources close to Kings ownership say it’s far more likely that Karl is removed as coach than Cousins being traded.
Kings general manager Vlade Divac – who reportedly overruled Karl’s attempt to suspend DeMarcus Cousins and said players hadn’t bought into Karl’s system – says the coach is safe for now. Lisa Gonzales of NBC 3: We didn’t air it: but I asked @bgoodvlade if coach Karl was the coach for rest of season- he said “yes” https://t.co/rSCLoNGxlh — Lisa Gonzales (@kcraTVLisaG)
Several players on the team, including veteran forward Rudy Gay and third-year guard Ben McLemore, have expressed frustrations with Karl in recent days in conversations with management, sources said.
Along with the Kings’ worst start since the 1990-91 season, when Sacramento started 1-13, Karl has increasingly become more scrutinized, especially by NBA observers who question whether he has the stamina to endure an 82-game regular season. Karl doesn’t run up and down the sidelines raising ruckus. Associate coach Chad Iske is the loudest voice players hear from the sidelines during games. It’s something people inside and outside the organization have expressed concern over privately, wondering if Karl’s health and energy will hold up.
“When you have a problem in the family, we addressed it, we talked about it,” Divac said.”I was very pleased.” Without going into specifics, Divac pointed to the players and the coaching staff being on a completely different page with regards to the X’s and O’s. “I’m not saying they don’t like the system,” Divac said. “They just aren’t buying in yet.”
The Sacramento Kings coach who came to town nine months ago, who was given a $15 million contract ($11.5 million guaranteed) that doesn’t expire until the summer of 2018, and whose sterling record of success has been tainted by way of the 12-26 record ever since, isn’t seen internally as their coach for the long-haul anymore. Barring a shocking turnaround – and by that, we’re talking a 40-plus win season that seems unlikely – that much has become increasingly clear.
If the Kings’ 1-7 record that prompted a team meeting on Tuesday gets even worse, his dismissal could come this week. Wednesday, the Kings – as irony would have it – face the same Detroit Pistons team that beat them last Dec. 13 and inspired the firing of coach Michael Malone. Or, should the early-season bleeding subside enough to calm the waters, Karl’s firing could come in the summer. But Karl, whose hiring had as much to do with the Kings’ business situation as it did basketball, is going to be just fine no matter what happens. It’s the Kings and their fanbase who have every reason to be worried.
After Sacramento was hammered at home by San Antonio Monday night, the Kings’ star, DeMarcus Cousins, stormed into the locker room and cursed out head coach George Karl with a torrent of obscenities, a person close to the situation told The Big Lead.
Afterward, Cousins felt some remorse for his actions, asking a couple of teammates if he came down too hard on the coach. They calmly told him, “you can’t scream and curse like that at your coach in front of everyone.”
The day after the San Antonio loss, the players had a well-publicized players-only meeting. What hasn’t been reported is that after the players spoke, Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz talked to the players and Divac asked the team, “We don’t know what to do with George [Karl], do you think we should fire him?” The players, a person close to the situation said, were shocked and didn’t know how to respond. Stunned speechless and lacking a leader, the Kings then trotted out Omri Casspi and Caron Butler to meet the media. Casspi played for the team a few years ago, but was in Houston last season and just re-signed with Sacramento less than two months ago. Butler was signed in the offseason.
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January 28, 2021 | 2:10 am EST Update
Fred Katz: Here is the single most important Bradley Beal quote from his postgame session today. Amidst all the trade talk, he said this: “It’s tough. We wanna win. I wanna win. This is why I stayed. I wanna win (here). I figure this is the place I can get it done.”
ESPN Stats: Bradley Beal scored 47 points tonight in a loss to the Pelicans. It’s his 10th straight loss when recording at least 40 points. Beal is the first player in NBA history to lose 10 straight 40-point games h/t @EliasSports
Washington’s second-half schedule might not be as jam-packed as first thought, after the NBA said Wednesday it was rescheduling some Wizards games after a half-dozen of their contests were postponed in recent weeks for virus-related reasons. Portland will now visit Washington on Tuesday, a game that was originally set for the second half. Washington will play at Charlotte on Feb. 7, a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 20. And that means the Blazers, who were scheduled to visit the Hornets that day, will now go to Charlotte in the second half of the schedule.
ESPN Stats: Kevin Durant is the 2nd player in NBA history to average at least 30 points in his first 15 games with a new team, joining Wilt Chamberlain in 1959-60 with the Warriors. That was Wilt’s first 15 career games h/t @EliasSports
“As the league evolves, you have to be able to evolve with it if you wanna be able to keep up with the times, keep up with the Joneses, or the Jameses in my case,” James said, laughing. “For me, [it’s] just never putting a cap on myself. I just want to always continue to get better and do things out on the floor that maybe hasn’t been done in other people’s careers and continue to push the envelope and see how much juice I can squeeze out of the lemon.”