Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive and team executive Vlade Divac were livid enough after the team’s 128-119 loss to the Nets on Friday night, which was the team’s sixth defeat in its last seven outings, that they are strongly weighing firing coach George Karl, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reports. A league source who was involved in discussions regarding the coach’s job status described the situation as, “An overreaction to the loss,” Wojnarowski adds. The momentum to fire Karl waned enough in the hours following Friday night’s defeat that he will likely be on the sideline for Sunday’s contest in Boston against the Celtics, according to the Vertical scribe.
Regardless of whether or not Karl is calling out sets on Sunday, the issue remains that the embattled coach has lost management’s support as well as some members of the team’s locker room, sources told Wojnarowski. Center DeMarcus Cousins seemingly called out the coaching staff for the team’s continued flaws on the defensive end after the loss to the Nets, telling reporters, “I’m not going to keep blaming these guys in the locker room. Energy and effort is a huge part of the game, but I’m not going to keep blaming it on that. We got a bigger issue, and we need to figure it out as a team. I’d rather keep [problems] in house, but we definitely have a bigger issue than just energy and effort. That can’t be the excuse every night. … We’re going to work it out as a team, and hopefully we can fix this.”
It was just under a year ago that Karl was hired to replace interim coach Tyrone Corbin, who had taken over for fired coach Michael Malone in December of 2014. Things have not gone smoothly during Karl’s tenure, with the coach and Cousins seemingly at odds from the very beginning of Karl’s time with the team. The franchise reportedly considered parting ways with Karl last June, mere months after signing him to a four year deal, because of his difficulties with Cousins and Divac. Firing Karl could cause issues with Sacramento’s ownership group as Ranadive has progressively lost the support and belief of the other owners after the past few years of instability within the organization, Wojnarowski notes.
The amount of guaranteed money still owed to Karl could factor into the front office’s decision-making regarding the coach, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Karl is earning $3.25MM this season and he is owed $5MM for each of the next two campaigns, though his salary for 2017/18 is only partially guaranteed for $1.5MM. If the team does make a coaching change, league sources have told Stein that assistant coach Nancy Lieberman would not be named interim coach, as had been rumored, but current assistant and former Kings player Corliss Williamson would be a possibility.