Who is the Sacramento Kings’ Next Coach?


Due to philosophical disagreements and disputes regarding player personnel, the Sacramento Kings fired coach Mike Malone on Monday, December 15. The move came as a surprise, especially considering the Kings’ 9-6 start to the season, but the team has struggled as of late due to DeMarcus Cousins‘ bout with viral meningitis.

With Cousins’ “All-Star” start and the team’s three year Rudy Gay extension, Sacramento appeared to be headed in the right direction. But management clearly was not happy with Malone and is now looking for a coach to pick up the tempo and usher in a faster paced offense.

While assistant coach Tyrone Corbin will serve as the team’s interim head coach, the Internet rumor mill has already named potential successors and suitors for the permanent head coaching job. Whether this change occurs midseason, offseason, or even happens at all, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of potential candidates:

George Karl


Coach Karl is obviously the sexiest potential choice. His hiring would quiet the fan uproar from Malone’s dismissal. Karl and Kings’ General Manager Pete D’Alessandro also have a friendship from their coinciding time in Denver, further spearheading rumors of him coming to Sacramento.

George Karl’s resume speaks for itself. 22 playoff appearances in 25 years, with stops in Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Denver. He’s remembered for taking a 1996 Sonics team to the NBA Finals and turning perennial losers Milwaukee and Denver into conference powerhouses.

Karl has also coached and developed some of the NBA’s biggest stars of the last quarter century, such as Chris Mullin, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, and Allen Iverson; leading to the conclusion he could further mentor DeMarcus Cousins and help “Boogie” in expanding his fundamental game knowledge even further. Karl is also relished as an offensive genius and an outside-the-box thinker, which has led many analysts to believe he’s the best fit for the opening given management’s desires.


George Karl is 63 years old; and it remains to be seen how much coaching energy he has left. One must also wonder if Karl, at this stage of his coaching career, is willing to endear the growing pains for this Kings team, which is still an unfinished product. Karl also has a history of rubbing some the wrong way.

Chris Mullin


Hall of Famer Chris Mullin would immediately command respect from the Kings’ locker room, given his resume and stature in the organization. A five-time All-Star, he was coached by some of the game’s brightest in Golden State and Indiana (Karl, Nelson, and Bird), and would be on par with D’Alessandro and Ranadive in their desires for faster paced, up-tempo basketball, similar to the 2006-07 Golden State Warriors he general managed.

Mullin could be the easiest mid-season transition to head coach as he already advises and works on behalf of the Kings. Nabbing Mullin would also continue the growing trend of hiring former high-profile players that lack coaching experience (i.e. Kidd, Fisher, Kerr).


As mentioned, Mullin has never coached before; and Malone’s dismissal would be even further scrutinized if his successor also lacked experience. Given Malone’s rookie coaching status in 2013, the team could take a step backward if they turned to a coach needing “on-the-job training.”

Alvin Gentry


Alvin Gentry has been an underrated coach for years. He coached Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire to the Western Conference Finals in 2010 while with the Suns. Many Phoenix fans regard him highly, making Gentry one of the most popular coaches in Suns history.

Most importantly, Gentry learned under the great offensive mind Mike D’Antoni, excelled under Coach Rivers in Los Angeles, and is currently flourishing as an assistant to Coach Kerr in Golden State.


While his assistant coaching has been extremely successful, Gentry’s head coaching resume in itself isn’t too impressive. His teams have only been playoff bound twice in 12 years coaching (9 of which were full seasons). Similar to George Karl, this wouldn’t be his first rodeo, as he’s also in his 60’s and some could question how long he’d want to stay in Sacramento.

Vinny Del Negro


Vinny Del Negro has experience coaching young stars (i.e. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin) from his stops in Chicago and with the Los Angeles Clippers. Similar to George Karl, he helped turn bottom-feeding teams into winners.

His teams were playoff bound in four of his five seasons, with the sole lottery season being Griffin’s rookie year. Del Negro even started his playing career with the Kings, playing his first two seasons in Sacramento from 1988-90.


Del Negro was seemingly run out of town, twice, even after playoff success. While it is true that his coaching successors are Coach of the Year winners in Chicago and L.A., each team seemingly got better after Vinny’s dismissal.

Besides notoriously losing his locker room’s respect while coaching the Clippers, Del Negro has been criticized for not maximizing the strengths of his players and relying too heavily on isolation basketball, especially late in games.

Mark Jackson


In an ongoing trend from this list, Jackson also turned a team of losers to playoff-magnets. An incredible motivator, Jackson’s players adored him as he is very skilled at creating relationships with his players.


Similar to Mike Malone in Sacramento, Mark Jackson had an extremely poor relationship with the rest of the Warriors organization while coaching Golden State. Hiring Brian Scalabrine as an assistant coach was nationally lampooned as a joke and dysfunction was rampant.

Jackson even fired Assistant Coach Darren Erman for secretly recording coaching meetings. Jackson also seemed lackluster in basic X’s and O’s knowledge and ran an underwhelming and disappointing offense.

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Keeping Tyrone Corbin


Another former-King, Corbin coached close to a .500 record in the post-Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer era in Utah. He brings stability to the team, and canning him mid-season for someone else would mean three coaches and three different systems for players to learn in the 2014-15 season. Additionally, management was impressed by the fast paced offense Corbin ran while coaching Sacramento to the 2014 Summer League championship.


Given all the coaching candidate rumors, Corbin is already perceived as a lame duck coach. Kings fans would also question why Malone was canned for a seemingly worse coach.

Keithpaulenny Musseltheus


This mythological creature is a combination of the five head coaches that roamed Sacramento’s sidelines in the post-Adelman and pre-Vivek era.


This mythological creature is a combination of the five head coaches that roamed Sacramento’s sidelines in the post-Adelman and pre-Vivek era.

In the end, Malone’s firing has been highly unpopular thus far. However, I put trust in Pete D’Alessandro and his front office. I know Kings fans hate to hear the word “patience” after the hell we’ve endeared over the past eight or so years, but let’s try our best to sit back and enjoy this ride while it lasts. Better times are ahead.