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Luke Walton unlikely to remain Kings head coach if losing streak continues

Luke Walton’s job will be “in peril” if something doesn’t change with the Kings.

Indiana Pacers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Luke Walton is on the hot seat. According to a report from Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic on Monday, Walton’s future with the Sacramento Kings will depend on whether or not he can get his team back on track:

With the Kings (5-8) in the midst of a four-game losing streak heading into a Monday night game at Detroit, sources say the third-year coach’s job status will likely be in peril soon if the current slide continues.

Losing streaks are nothing new for the Kings, especially since Walton took over in 2019. In fact, just last season, they lost nine games in a row on two separate occasions. Walton was given the benefit of the doubt last year, but the same won’t be true this year, per the report:

At the time, sources said Walton’s approval rating in the locker room and the partnership he had created with general manager Monte McNair during McNair’s first season with the team were key factors in his survival.

Changing head coaches in the middle of the season is hardly ever good practice, but if the Kings’ brass truly believes that moving on from Walton sooner rather than later will put them closer to playoff contention, then they should do it. The question is: will it?

Walton has his faults as a head coach, for sure, but the Kings’ problems go beyond him and his coaching staff. The roster, as constructed, just isn’t that good, which is on the front office. Additionally, the players that were supposed to take meaningful leaps this season haven’t, particularly De’Aaron Fox, who’s averaging career-lows in field goal percentage (41%) and 3-point percentage (23%).

Would firing Walton be a step in the right direction? That’s a different conversation, and one that starts with his replacement. Walton’s assistant coach Alvin Gentry’s name will be thrown into the mix immediately, but it would serve the Kings well to do a thorough search for a head coach for the first time in almost four years. If that means an interim head coach, so be it: this time likely isn’t going anywhere this season anyway.