Kings coach Luke Walton has been on the short list of NBA coaches with tenuous job status for awhile but he’s likely to retain his position at least through the end of this season, Sam Amick and Jason Jones of The Athletic report.
There are a variety of reasons why Walton is expected to hold onto his job, barring a complete second-half collapse. Finances come into play, as Walton is owed a combined $11.5MM in the next two seasons of his four-year guaranteed deal. The franchise has lost approximately $100MM due to the pandemic and there was even an ownership cash call in May, per Amick and Jones.
The Kings have a history of paying multiple coaches at the same time due to early firings, and minority owners are reluctant to go in that direction again.
Minority owners were asked to come up with funds to ensure the organization was still on track financially in accordance with five-year projection plans. Several of them were unable to do so, and owner Vivek Ranadive had to bridge the financial gap.
Walton has also dutifully carried out the plan set forth during the offseason by new GM Monte McNair.
McNair viewed this season as a “gap year,” with his long-term vision requiring two-to-four years to set in. Franchise player De’Aaron Fox has continued to support Walton publicly and privately and the front office is also impressed how rookie Tyrese Haliburton has blended with Fox. The progress shown by Marvin Bagley II in a starting role has also worked in Walton’s favor.
Here’s more tidbits from The Athletic’s story:
- Nemanja Bjelica chose not to play for over a month because he was furious that Bagley had been handed his minutes. Glenn Robinson III was also upset with losing his rotation role before he was released.
- Bjelica and Cory Joseph are the two players most likely to be dealt before the trade deadline. Hassan Whiteside has also been monitored by teams seeking a backup center.
- Despite the improvements he’s shown, Bagley has drawn little interest on the trade market.