It's looking like we have a new coach.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sacramento Kings and George Karl are progressing on a four-year deal that's worth about $4-5 million annually to become the new head coach. Karl will take over for Tyrone Corbin when the All-Star break begins Thursday. According to the report, Corbin was notified on Friday that the team would be looking for a new coach.
For many Kings fans, this news comes as a great relief. After firing Mike Malone in December, Karl was immediately presumed to be the frontrunner given his time in Denver with Pete D'Alessandro as well as his penchant to run the style of basketball that this front office and ownership want to see. However the Kings seemed intent on biding their time and giving Tyrone Corbin a real chance, which according to Wojnarowski's report was one of the reasons Cousins' camp was rumored to be discontent with Karl. Like others, they had thought the team would wait to conduct a full coaching search until the offseason. Unfortunately, the team has fallen off dramatically under Corbin, going just 7-19, which necessitated some sort of change. From Woj's report:
The agents for DeMarcus Cousins - Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana - have no issues with Karl taking over as head coach and only wanted clarification on the franchise's repeated changing of direction in its coaching search plans this season, sources said. The Kings had initially planned to let Corbin coach the rest of the season, and then conduct a full search of candidates in April.
Fegan and Akana were surprised over the timing of another coaching change, especially after they had been assured at the time of Malone's departure the franchise would wait until the offseason to conduct a full search of candidates, sources said.
Karl is one of the winningest coaches in NBA history with a career record of 1,131-756. In 25 seasons of coaching, he's had a winning record in all but three seasons, all of which came in his first four years of coaching. Karl has had coaching stops in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee and Denver. His last year in Denver he finished 57-25 and won the NBA's Coach of the Year award before being fired that summer. Denver has not been the same since the firing, finishing 36-46 last year and are just 19-32 this year.
Coincidentally enough, Karl is one of the few coaches who has experience taking over a team in the middle of a season. His time in Denver started with him taking over a 17-25 team which he helped carry to a 32-8 record over the second half of the season.
With the hiring of Karl, the healing process can finally begin for this team and fanbase. Corbin might have had the public backing of the front office, but it seemed clear to everyone with any idea how the NBA works that he was not a long-term solution. The players now know who their coach is going forward, and that should lead to a more buy-in from everyone involved, although that might not come as easily as one would think; Jason Jones tweeted the following before getting on a plane to Chicago:
Hearing multiple players on Kings do not want George Karl as their coach.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) February 9, 2015
Apparently some folks are turned off at what they see as Karl's social media campaigning for the job.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) February 9, 2015
It should be noted that the only player on the entire Kings roster that has played for Karl is Reggie Evans back in 2006 for Denver. Considering Karl's ability to bring teams together, I'm not too worried about this reported player apprehension.
There will only be 30 games left this season when Karl takes over. He will have precious little time to hold practices given the schedule but given that there's nothing left to play for this season, these games are very important for the future growth of this team. These games are where Karl can begin to establish himself and hopefully build a foundation that the team can really build off of going into next season. There are already some nice pieces in place; DeMarcus Cousins alone is quite possibly the best big man that Karl has ever gotten to work with.
This team will now be in Karl's hands. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with it.