The Sacramento Kings are making a coaching change. The Vertical’s Chris Mannix reported just minutes ago that the Kings have fired assistant coach Vance Walberg, and will look to add a defensive minded assistant to George Karl’s coaching staff in the near future. Mannix also reported that former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown is expected to receive consideration.
The Sacramento Kings released an official statement on their decision to fire Walberg, which you can read below.
SACRAMENTO, CA – The Sacramento Kings announced today a change to its coaching staff, parting ways with assistant coach Vance Walberg, according to Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Vlade Divac.
"This was a tough decision made after consideration of what is best for the team moving forward," Divac said. "We want to thank Vance for his contributions to the organization and wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
Walberg joined the Sacramento bench on February 23, 2015.
Mannix followed up his original report by noting that Karl was ‘vehemently’ against the decision to let Walberg go, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone because everyone on the Kings’ coaching staff outside of Corliss Williams has direct ties to Karl and his basketball philosophies. This was his staff, Karl brought Walberg here, and he has every right to disagree with Vlade’s decision.
There are so many different interests at play here, and one could view Divac’s decision to fire Walberg as a final attempt to force Karl into changing his systems to something that will better suit the Kings’ roster.
You could also argue that Divac, a general manager who may or may not have the authority to fire George Karl based on pressure from minority ownership, is trying to force Karl out by other means – firing key members of his staff. There is plenty of turmoil behind the scenes in Sacramento, and I wouldn’t rule out any possibility.
At absolute best, the decision to let Walberg go sends a strong message to Karl that his systems and schemes need to change. The addition of a defensive minded assistant coach (I’ll spare you my thoughts on Mike Brown) could, at best, improve the Kings’ horrendous defensive principles.
At worst, the relationship between Karl and the Kings deteriorates to a point of no return, and considering how close the Kings are to that point already; it’s not the worst gamble by Divac.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting a successful turnaround because of Walberg’s firing, but for those clamoring for change of some kind, Vlade is giving you that. If we know anything about George Karl, it’s that he won’t take this lightly, and I’d expect a veiled shot at the Kings through the media shortly.
As someone who hasn’t been kind to Karl in the past, and has been incredibly disappointed in his tenure as head coach of the Sacramento Kings, he is in a tough, uncomfortable spot right now. You can say he’s earned that spot, that’s fine, but Vlade is slowly taking the keys away from him, and I tend to believe that firing Karl last week would have been a lot smoother than whatever drama this will inevitably ignite.
We can, however, safely say that the old way wasn’t working. It would be hard to imagine the on-court product getting worse from here.
Stay tuned, I full expect a few more shoes to drop on this one.