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Luke Walton’s job is safe even with Vlade Divac gone

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Walton is under contract for three more seasons.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 7 - Sacramento Kings v LA Clippers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

With Vlade Divac out from the front office, the Sacramento Kings announced in their team release that all personnel moves will be on hold until the team hires a new general manager:

“No further personnel decisions will be made until a new General Manager is in place.”

This language implicitly suggests that Luke Walton will not be fired despite a disappointing first season in Sacramento, and Sam Amick of The Athletic confirmed explicitly that Walton will be returning to the Kings next season, whenever that happens to be.

Walton signed a four-year contract last April and still has three years left on that deal. It is likely that the Kings are merely guaranteeing Walton’s employment through next season rather than for the life of his contract. It is also possible that the new GM will have latitude to decide Walton’s fate once that person is hired, though James Ham of NBC Sports reports that the Kings are committed to Walton no matter what.

It is worth noting that even if the Kings are assuring Walton’s job security, things change fast in the NBA. When Arturas Karnisovas was hired as the VP of basketball operations for the Chicago Bulls season, he indicated that then-head coach Jim Boylen was safe. This morning, Boylen was fired.

Even if Walton sticks around, the Kings will have to fill an important role on the bench now that lead assistant Igor Kokoskov has left the NBA to coach Fenerbahce in Turkey.

With so much money left on Walton’s contract, the organization would have to be confident that a new coach would be an upgrade. That seems like a fairly easy task to accomplish, but nothing is ever quite so simple with the Sacramento Kings.