Vlade Divac Denies Asking Players If Karl Should Go

6:45pm: Divac said the idea he asked the players if they wanted Karl fired is a misconception, notes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee.

“You guys make my job hard,” Divac said to reporters. “There is partial truth to a lot of what has been reported, but much of it was off. First of all, I never asked the players if I should fire Coach or said I was thinking of doing that. I walked into the locker room after [Monday’s] game and said, ‘OK, you guys don’t want to play with Coach? What’s the problem?’ I wanted to catch them by surprise a little bit and get them to talk openly about what was going on. Then the coaches came in, and we talked some more. I think it was very positive for everyone.”

THURSDAY, 10:15am: A league source who spoke with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com disputes the idea that Divac asked Kings players if the team should get rid of Karl, though he doesn’t mention Bratz’s involvement. We have more on the Kings drama right here.

6:43pm: Divac answered affirmatively when Marc J. Spears asked him if Karl’s job is safe (Twitter link).

“Yeah,” Divac said. “Yeah. Nothing has changed, really. 1-7, we all know we’re better.”

The blame for Cousins’ tirade doesn’t rest on Karl’s shoulders, Divac also told Spears, who earlier passed on a statement from Cousins apologizing for his outburst (All four Twitter links). Divac wouldn’t say whether the team is disciplining Cousins in any way for the tirade, Spears notes (Twitter link).

“Most important thing we had after the meeting was we were on the same page, bottom line, on how to improve. That’s positive stuff,” Divac said.

5:36pm: Karl wanted to suspend Cousins for two games after the center’s Monday night verbal tirade, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays. According to Jones, Divac told the coach that he did not have authority to suspend Cousins, and Divac refused to grant Karl permission to impose the suspension.

3:15pm: Karl is indeed in jeopardy of losing his job as soon as this week, USA Today’s Sam Amick reports. Meanwhile, owners who have minority shares in the Kings are more frustrated than ever with Ranadive in large measure because he isn’t consulting with them on decisions, Amick hears from a source.

WEDNESDAY, 2:46pm: Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz asked players during Tuesday’s team meeting whether they thought he should fire coach George Karl, reports Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead. The players weren’t sure how to respond, McIntyre adds, though Caron Butler said after the meeting that the players are behind the coach. DeMarcus Cousins verbally lit into Karl after Monday’s loss to the Spurs, though he later felt a level of regret about having done so, McIntyre also hears. Divac is under pressure as Vivek Ranadive’s interest in hiring John Calipari to both coach the team and run the front office has ramped up in recent months, according to McIntyre.

Cousins asked a couple of teammates if he had been too hard on Karl, who simply walked away at the end of the center’s rant, and they advised him not to “scream and curse” at his coach the way he had, as McIntyre details. Karl and Cousins have had an up-and-down relationship, at best, since Karl took over the team in February, with the two saying over the summer that they had patched up their differences following reports indicating that Karl wanted the team to trade Cousins and had sought to do so. Kings officials are reportedly concerned with Karl’s low energy amid a 1-7 start.

Ben McLemore expressed confusion during Tuesday’s team meeting about his role, though teammates told him it was to hit 3-pointers and defend, and that those are the responsibilities of everyone aside from Cousins and Rajon Rondo, as McIntyre details.

The Kings denied a report over the summer indicating that they had reached out to Calipari at that point, and Calipari has continually maintained that he isn’t interested in returning to the NBA, despite persistent rumors to the contrary. The team’s decisions to draft Willie Cauley-Stein, whom Calipari coached at Kentucky, and sign Rondo, who played at Kentucky before Calipari became coach there, were mostly because of Ranadive’s friendship with Calipari, McIntyre writes.

How do you see the Kings saga playing out? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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