14 candidates for Kings' head coaching position
The search begins...
George Karl became the latest victim of the Sacramento Kings' coaching carousel on Thursday when he was relieved of his duties after just 15 months on the job. Since Rick Adelman left the team following the 2005-06 season, Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Michael Malone, Tyrone Corbin and now Karl have all tried, but failed to hold onto the job. Here is a list of the potential candidates for the position that have already been mentioned...
Brooks will be high on every list after posting a 338-207 regular season record in seven seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The competition will be tough, but Brooks grew up down the street from Sacramento in the town of Manteca. Vlade will have to bring a giant suitcase of cash and a whole lot of promises if he hopes to land this big fish.
Messina has four European championships under his belt and a two-year apprenticeship under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. He will have suitors all over the league, including big city posts like New York and Brooklyn. He may be out of the Kings league this time around.
Vinny Del Negro
The former second-round pick of the Kings was in Sacramento over the weekend to celebrate the final game at Arco Arena. Del Negro has a 210-184 record in five seasons as a head coach of the Bulls and Clippers. He’s led his club to the playoffs in four out of five seasons and he posted a 56-26 record in his final year with the Clippers before getting replaced by Doc Rivers.
Hornacek looked like the next great NBA coach in his first season when he led the Phoenix Suns to a shocking 48-34 record - a 23 game improvement over the previous season. But then it all fell apart. In two and a half years on the job, the former All-Star guard posted a 101-112 record with the Suns and was dismissed in February of this year. He showed a lot of promise coming in, but he couldn’t escape the dysfunction in the desert.
Another former Kings player and San Antonio assistant, Udoka has leader written all over him. With four years as an assistant under Pop, Udoka might be ready to lead his own team. Just four years removed from his playing days, Udoka might have the best understanding of today’s player.
Thibs dropped by Sacramento after the All-Star break to work with the Kings defense. He has ties to DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli, but he will be one of the more sought after coaches in the league. He’s a defensive genius, but he ruffled a lot feathers on the inside during his time in Chicago. Thibs has a career record of 255-139 and he took the Bulls to the playoffs in all five of his seasons in the Windy City.
Jackson was around long enough in Golden State to build a winner, but he never got the chance to see it through. Jackson totaled a 121-109 record in his time with the Warriors and he won nine playoff games over two seasons. He’s more motivator than tactician, but that might be a plus with a team like the Kings
The former Celtic great led the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals last year before getting run out of town 11 games into the season. He posted four straight winning seasons in Houston and he boasts a 232-185 record in parts of seven campaigns with the Rockets and Timberwolves.
The Hall of Fame center has been busy working as an assistant for more a decade. He’s studied under both Van Gundy brothers and he’s spent the last three seasons as Steve Clifford’s associate head coach in Charlotte. Would Cousins fall into line under one of the greats at his position?
Mitchell barely had time to turn in his unemployment paperwork, yet here he is making the list. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, he’s already landed an interview with Sacramento after getting the boot in Minnesota last week. Mitchell has posted a 185-242 record in parts of six seasons with Toronto and Minnesota.
Tossed out in the great “retread revolt” of 2013, “Mr. Sonic” makes so much sense. He’s worked as an assistant under Frank Vogel in Indiana for the last two seasons and he’s looking for the right fit. The man who slayed the Jail-Blazers might be a perfect fit for a Kings team needing a cultural reset.
Another former Kings player to add to the list, Woodson has sat on Doc Rivers’ Clippers bench for the past two seasons. He had moderate success in Atlanta and somehow willed the Knicks to 54 wins in the 2012-13 season. Five playoff seasons in nine years has earned him an interview.
Walton turned an injury fill-in for Steve Kerr into a magical carpet ride. The 36-year-old has spent a lifetime around the game and his 39-4 record running the Warriors to begin this season has made him into the hottest name on the market. But is he ready to leave the nest and how far is he willing to fall to see if those wings work?
Jeff Van Gundy
No, he hasn’t been mentioned in Sacramento, and his brother left the Kings standing at the altar with a mad dash to the Kinkos a few years back. If he’s ready to jump back in the game, who better to coach DeMarcus Cousins than the guy who led Patrick Ewing and Yao Ming? He boasts a 430-318 record over his 11 seasons with the Knicks and the Rockets. Nine playoff appearances and four 50 win seasons... he’s the NBA version of Jon Gruden.