Mike Malone stood alongside Kings owner Vivek Ranadive Monday morning in a series of firsts for the new regime. Many were stunned when the Kings broke convention and tabbed a head coach before signing a General Manager. But Ranadive is not a man who believes in convention.
Petrie's contract as GM expires June 30 and its widely believed that he will not be retained by the new ownership group. Ranadive believes in Mike Malone "100 percent" and that's good enough for me.
Ranadive comes across as a man who likes to take his time yet strikes when the iron is hot. Vivek also seems like a man that's assured of himself. He's confident not cocky and really gave me the impression that he will take a thoughtful pragmatic take on matters of the team.
The market for Malone was a hot one and Vivek knew he had to act fast. The former assistant coach was in wide demand but as Coach Malone explained the "Kings were the only organization that extended me an offer while others only mentioned the possibility." Malone also said that he looked at the new ownership, the new arena and felt it was a great fit.
And so we have it, for the first time since 1994 there's a new steward over the Kings franchise and Mike Malone becomes the *
fourth fifth Kings coach with Warriors lineage [St.Jean, Adelman, Musselman, Smart] .
There were lots of great soundbites from this conference and the reporters asked some great pointed questions [mostly for Vivek it seemed]. So i urge you to obtain footage of the conference if you can, it was a great introduction for Malone and the first of many firsts for Ranadive as he looks to solidify the front office personnel ahead of arena plans.
There were however some insight and bullet points i was able tot ake away from this conference that i really liked.
- NOT A MATTER OF WINS AND LOSSES
Mike Malone says this season's goals "can't be quantified in wins and losses. what i will judge myself on is changing the culture in the locker room, creating a defensive personality and developing players". This comment is significant on all levels. This tells me that Malone has not only said i can work with these guys, i can develop them as well. And i believe him. Malone came off as grateful, confident and enthused. I get the feeling Kings training camp will have a nasty edge to it.
- COUSINS STAYS
Of the questions asked Monday morning none was more anticipated than the white elephant in the room that is DeMarcus Cousins. And more specifically what the Kings plan to do with him. Malone put to rest any drama and [possibly] earned a lot of points with DeMarcus when Malone replied "Cousins is and should be the cornerstone, face of this franchise". Vivek followed that up by adding that he spoke with Cousins shortly before the sale went through adding "I would like nothing than a billion indians to know who [Cousins] is".
The ball is in Cousins' court here. I've always been on the fence when it came to Cousins but deep down it makes no sense to trade him. You don't trade away guys like this. Vivek says he and Cousins have the chance 'to do something big'. While i agree that a max contract is not appealing, a great offer [with discipline-based performance bonuses] is much easier to swallow. Its clear that Vivek and Malone are on the same page when it comes to Cousins and it's up to Demarcus to demonstrate whether he's with that or against it. Sources say he doesn't want to be traded and has been very receptive of Kings owner Vivek Ranadive.
- IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Mike Malone says his daughters and family have moved six times in the past year. And that when their youngest child found out the family would be uprooted again this time to Sacramento, she broke out in tears. Vivek added "my daughter did the same". Ouch, not exactly a show of support. But questions were put at ease when Malone added that his family was behind him and the city of Sacramento. And the same goes for Vivek. This new regime isn't going anywhere. For the first time in quite some time, since Adelman in my opinion, we have a Coach that won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Stability and character along with talent and preparedness creates championship teams.
The New Orleans Pelicans, defensive wizards? Well believe it. Wherever Mike Malone goes the team he receives checks from benefits greatly. Malone had a .663 winning percentage in his time in Cleveland. In his first year as assistant in New Orleans the team improved mightily on defense finishing above .500 and earning a playoff spot in 2011. The Hornets were also the most improved defensive team in 2011 posting a league-best 8.7 fewer points per game than in the previous campaign (94.0 ppg, after giving up 102.7 ppg in 2009-10). Additionally, the Hornets limited their opponents to 45.7 FG% in 2010-11 compared to 48.3 FG% the previous season.
I really think Malone is the best hire we've had in some time. It wasn't that Keith Smart was all that bad of a Coach, it was his supporting cast in spite of that. Malone has served on some great staffs over the last 12 years and instantly beats out any coach when it comes to that category prior to this hire. Besides, his father Brendan Malone worked for Chuck Daly and won two titles with the Pistons. This guy comes from great stock. Starting with a solid coach and letting him build a great support team will go a long way towards the success for the Kings but i think he will assemble a great crew that will give Sacramento a great chance of accelerating the rebuilding process.