10:55am: Cousins and Divac have become close, notes SB Nation’s Tom Ziller amid his column on the Kings saga.
10:15am: George Karl will remain the coach of the Kings through this season, vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac said in response to a question from Lisa Gonzales of KCRA-TV in Sacramento, in spite of reports from Wednesday indicating that his job is in immediate danger (Twitter link). A league source who spoke with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com disputes the idea that Divac asked Kings players if the team should fire Karl, as was reportedly the case.
Still, it’s much more likely that the Kings will fire Karl than trade Cousins, sources close to Kings ownership tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The possibility exists that the Kings will part ways with both Karl and DeMarcus Cousins, Berger also hears. Karl’s contract has about $10MM left on it, and it’s fully guaranteed through 2016/17 with a $1.5MM partial guarantee for 2017/18. Cousins has a fully guaranteed total of nearly $51MM left on his deal, which runs through 2017/18.
Cousins has made it clear to Kings brass that he doesn’t want the team to fire Karl, sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com. However, the Karl-Cousins partnership was “doomed from the start,” a league source told Berger, and a person familiar with the team said to Berger that Karl has irritated the front office and players alike. Karl wanted to suspend Cousins last season for negative body language during timeouts, two sources told Mannix. Still, sources on both sides of the relationship between Karl and Cousins who spoke with Mannix believe that the relationship can be saved. Cousins had expectations of winning this season, and it was his frustration with losing that was the primary impetus for Cousins’ verbal excoriation of Karl after Monday’s loss, but Cousins believes that another coaching change won’t help the team in the standings, as Mannix details.
Several Kings players, including Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay, have expressed frustration about Karl, but the team’s meeting on Tuesday wasn’t out of the ordinary, sources tell Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Cousins, who publicly apologized for reportedly yelling profanities at Karl after Monday’s loss, cited an air of positivity after the meeting, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Divac tried to calm Cousins during his tirade but said later that he’s OK with the star center’s outburst and that he doesn’t think Cousins was only pointing his criticism at Karl, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports details. Coaches and team officials met with the players after the players held a meeting of their own Tuesday, Spears also notes.
“I’m not sure a panic button was pushed as you all magnified it,” Karl said, as the ESPN report relays. “Team meetings and six-game losing streaks happen. The newness to our team? I don’t know. But I thought the last two days have been good for us.”
Karl admits he delegates more of his duties than before he endured a recurrence of cancer during his time with the Nuggets, but he disputes the idea that his energy is diminished, as Jones relays via Facebook. Kings management has reportedly been concerned with Karl’s stamina. Owner Vivek Ranadive is reportedly more interested than ever in Kentucky coach John Calipari, who remains intrigued with the idea of returning to the NBA, despite his denials, Mannix adds. “Rumblings” indicate that Kings minority owners, reportedly frustrated with Ranadive’s failure to consult with them on moves, “desperately” want to wrest control of the team from Ranadive, though they have little power to make that happen, Mannix writes.
How long do you think Karl will remain coach of the Kings? Leave a comment to tell us.