NBA

NBA PM: George Karl Interested in Kings Job

George Karl admits he’s interested in the Kings head coaching job, but says taking a job midseason is difficult.

Alex Kennedy profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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George Karl Interested in Kings Job

When the Sacramento Kings shockingly fired head coach Mike Malone, one of the first potential replacements that started being mentioned on the rumor mill was George Karl.

Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro worked with Karl in Denver, and Sacramento’s decision-makers (including owner Vivek Ranadive) want the team to play an up-tempo style of basketball and get out in transition, which is Karl’s strength.

The 63-year-old head coach remains available, doing a variety of broadcasting jobs such as providing analysis on ESPN and hosting a radio show on Sirius XM NBA Radio while he waits to get back into coaching. Shortly after he was fired by Denver back in June of 2012 (right after he won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award), he told Basketball Insiders that he wanted to resume his coaching career at some point, preferably with a team in the Western Conference.

Yesterday, on his radio show, Karl addressed the rumors about him possibly coaching the Kings and admitted that he’s interested in talking with Sacramento’s management at some point.

“It’s always interesting for me when a job opens up and your name is in the mesh,” Karl said on his radio show, as transcribed by Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. “First of all, I understand… I’m humbled. If they are interested in me, I would have interest in them. But there is a process to it. And part of the process right now is I don’t like really talking about it out of respect to Mike Malone. His legs have been cut out from under him and I’ve been that guy before. There should be a mourning period. Instead of stirring up all the gossip there should be a time to respect the coach.

“And then the process is, I’m sure they have questions that they want answers (to) and if I would have the opportunity to talk to them I would probably have questions I would like them to answer. It’s something that, happening in the middle of the year makes it a little more difficult. But there’s no question that I have a hunger to be back in the gym and I have a passion to coach the game of basketball again. I love the gym and I love the NBA and if this would fall into place I would, again, I would be humbled to talk to them and see where it goes.”

As Karl pointed out, joining a new team becomes “a little more difficult” in the middle of a season because the coach doesn’t have a full training camp and preseason to get on the same page as his players and implement his new system and style. It’s also very hard for a head coach to assemble a quality staff after a midseason hiring because many of the coaches they’d want to bring on are working elsewhere.

In the summer, it is much easier to do all of these things, which is why there have been reports that interim head coach Ty Corbin will likely finish the 2014-15 season as the Kings’ head coach and then the change to someone like Karl would happen over the offseason.

In his 25 seasons as an NBA head coach, Karl had a 1131-756 record in the regular season and 80-105 record in the postseason. He made the playoffs in 22 of 25 seasons.

Karl’s best campaign was in the 1995-96 season when he led the Seattle Sonics to 64 wins and the NBA Finals. His teams often got out in transition and put up a lot of points, which is what the Kings want and felt Malone couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do.

The other names that have been linked to the Kings’ job are Chris Mullin (who has expressed some interest in coaching for the first time, and who currently works in Sacramento’s front office as an advisor), Vinny Del Negro and Alvin Gentry.

It seems like Karl is the top candidate at this point, but there has also been serious discussion about Mullin stepping into the role this offseason once he has time to put together a solid staff of experienced coaches to help him with his first time on the sidelines (like Steve Kerr did with his Golden State Warriors’ staff). In the meantime, reports have indicated that Mullin will try to work with Corbin on game-plans and practices, which lends credibility to the reports that the job may be his this summer.

Most people around the league believe that Corbin is just a placeholder who will likely be replaced as soon as Sacramento can land a new coach this offseason. The Kings’ front office tried to take over the interview process for the lead assistant job over the offseason, even reportedly letting it be known to candidates such as Gentry that the head coaching job could be theirs rather quickly if the team were to struggle. However, Malone ended up making his own hire (Corbin) so it seems unlikely that he’ll have his interim tag removed given that he wasn’t brought in by D’Alessandro and Ranadive (and isn’t known for using an up-tempo system).

It’s clear that the Kings want to win now and some of the coaches being mentioned are intriguing, so this is certainly a situation to keep an eye on (particularly this offseason). Sacramento is currently 11-13, after winning five of their first six games and at one point sitting at 9-5, with the team’s struggles directly linked to DeMarcus Cousins being out for a significant stretch due to viral meningitis.

Trade Talk Picking Up Around the NBA

Now that the players who were signed this past offseason are now eligible to be dealt, trade talks have picked up significant. Here are some of the latest tweets and reports from fellow NBA writers:

Expect to hear more and more rumors over the next few weeks and all the way up until the trade deadline on Feb. 19, especially since there are reportedly more talks than usual taking place.

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Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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