It is a move many Kings fans hoped for, Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Malone has agreed to a deal to become the new coach of your Sacramento Kings.
NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the agreement between Malone and the Kings, a 4-year deal with the final year being a team option.
Malone was expected to interview for the Los Angeles Clippers coaching job this week, but now the Clippers will have to look elsewhere. Malone has a strong relationship with free agent PG Chris Paul, when he was an assistant coach in New Orleans.
I was one of many Kings fans hoping Vivek Ranadive could bring in Mike Malone as coach, and that is exactly what he did. Malone is everything that Keith Smart isn’t, a defensive-minded coach who demands discipline out of his players.
Former King and current Warriors PF Carl Landry spoke earlier this week with Jason Jones about Malone’s style of coaching and how he think Malone would fit with the Kings.
Defense and discipline, two things the Kings have been starved of since 2008 when the collapse of the team into a lottery contestant began. Now we enter a new era, with ownership committed to winning and a coach that preaches defense and discipline.
This will be the first head coaching job for Malone, has also been an assistant for the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Malone is well-known for his time in Cleveland where he helped coach the Cavaliers from 2005-’09, highlighted by the 2008 season when the Cavs allowed a league leading 91.4 points per game. He also is credited for helping implement defense into Lebron James game and become the elite defender he is today.
The Kings desperately need defense, after allowing a league high 105.1 points per game last season, which was an astounding three points more than the next closest team (Charlotte). It marked the second consecutive year the Kings allowed the most points in the league and the fifth consecutive season they have allowed 104 points or more per game.Defense proved to be the downfall for Sacramento down the stretch, as Sacramento started to score more efficiently, only to give up more points on the other end.
The Kings also struggled with discipline, and maybe no other player needs to learn it more than DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins often found himself in trouble with the officials he had the 5th most fouls (269), 2nd in flagrant fouls (3), 1st in technicals (17) and 2nd in ejections (4). We all know how talented DeMarcus Cousins is but as he enters his fourth season in the league, he has yet to show any improvement in his maturity and discipline. He isn’t entirely to blame, he quickly became the face of the franchise on a very bad team, and has never had a true veteran presence who can command the locker room and mentor him. Cousins also hasn’t had a coach who is willing to discipline enough but doesn’t go as far as embarrassing him. Westphal brought some discipline, but also didn’t hesitate to throw DeMarcus under the bus. Now DeMarcus Cousins will no longer have to deal with inept coaching or the questions about relocation, this is his chance to step up and be the All Star caliber player everyone knows he can be. He will run into some problems with his new coach, but if Malone can teach him discipline the Kings will have a true franchise player.
The arrival of Mike Malone doesn’t just help DeMarcus Cousins though, it will also help players like Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas as well. While Tyreke is a restricted free agent, the Kings will likely match any offer within reason to keep him in town. Evans hasn’t been the same player since his 20-5-5 rookie season, but this new regime can change that. Malone will preach discipline and fundamentals, but he can also help Tyreke with his decision making and basketball IQ. Evans is a willing learned and at 24, still has a long career ahead of him. The talent is there to be a very good player, but he has yet to learn the fundamentals of the game and possibly turn around his career. Malone can also help Isaiah Thomas with his defense, while he will never be an All-Defensive team caliber player he still can develop so he isn’t a liability when guarding his opponent.
It almost seemed like destiny for Mike Malone to be the next coach of the Sacramento Kings. His connections with new ownership, his success everywhere he has gone and his coaching style. Everything he emphasizes to his players is exactly what this young Kings team has needed since 2008 can be taught by Mike Malone. Now all that is left is a new general manager, and if the first hiring is any indication, Vivek Ranadive will find the right man for the job.