UPDATE THURSDAY 1:44 P.M. EDT
The Sacramento Kings have made official what was previously reported, firing Coach George Karl after one-plus seasons at the helm.
“After evaluating the team’s performance this season, I determined it was necessary to move forward with a new voice from the head coaching position,” General Manager Vlade Divac said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for George and his accomplishments throughout his nearly 30 years in the NBA. On behalf of everyone in the Kings organization, I thank him for the contributions made during his time in Sacramento and wish him good fortune in the future.”
Karl also commented, via Turner’s David Aldridge: “While I would have loved to continue on this journey, I am very proud of our work and I want to thank Kings management for the opportunity to have coached this exciting team with such a bright future. It’s my heartfelt feeling that the magnificent new arena will be hosting many Playoff runs and an eventual Championship, which the Sacramento fans, some of the most loyal and supportive people I’ve ever known in my many years in the NBA, very much deserve. With a profound humility, moving forward, I wish nothing but the best for this franchise and its players.”
The Sacramento Bee reports that Vinny Del Negro, Jeff Hornacek, Kevin McHale and Patrick Ewing are being considered to replace Karl, and that Mark Jackson and David Blatt are expected to be considered.
ESPN and the Sacramento Bee are reporting that the Sacramento Kings will fire Coach George Karl after Wednesday night’s season finale against the Houston Rockets, ending an ill-matched pairing that lasted a little more than one season.
Karl apparently was close to losing his job in February, only to be saved after General Manager Vlade Divac persuaded team owner Vivek Ranadive to keep him on. Hired midway through the 2014-15 season, Karl almost immediately begin squabbling with standout DeMarcus Cousins and asked Ranadive to trade him. Ranadive said no and things degenerated to the point where Cousins reportedly was cussing out Karl in the locker room after games. Earlier this year, point guard Rajon Rondo publicly admitted that only three or four players regularly showed up to the team’s option shootarounds.
Karl went 44-67 overall in Sacramento, which is seven games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference this season. The team couldn’t even lose properly: Sacramento is tied for the league’s eighth-worst record entering Wednesday’s finale against the Rockets (which clinches a playoff berth with a win). Depending on how it fares in the lottery, it could lose its top 10-protected first-round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls because of a 2014 trade involving the Cleveland Cavaliers, leaving the team with zero draft picks this year.
The Kings, who move into a new arena next year, have missed the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons. Their next coach will be their ninth since 2006-07, the most in the league over that span. The Kings will owe Karl the estimated $10 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.