A lot of rumors will circulate about who will be the next coach of the Sacramento Kings, with the assumption that George Karl is a lame duck with is firing inevitable. But Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com pours cold water on the notion that John Wall's college coach is next in line.
According to Helin, who talked to a person with knowledge of the situation, the initial report about Kings owner Vivek Ranadive being prepared to make John Calipari a supposed offer that he can't refuse next summer is untrue.
Calipari is king at the University of Kentucky where he's competing for national championships every year. He had a failed bid in the NBA with the Nets, whom he coached from 1996-98, with a 72-112 record.
If Calipari were so inclined to return to the pros, it probably would be in a far more stable situation to rectify that failure rather than with Ranadive's troubled franchise in Sacramento where the star player DeMarcus Cousins has clashed with Karl. Cousins went to Kentucky, as did 2015 lottery pick Willie Cauley-Stein.
But the ownership under Ranadive has been nothing short of a circus, with front-office novice Vlade Divac as a GM and vice president who has chided Karl publicly and clearly doesn't like him. The Kings also are 5-9.
Unless Ranadive were to offer Calipari a healthy ownership stake in the franchise there's no plausible reason why he -- or anyone of the coach's reputation or caliber -- should take such a job.
Ranadive, after all, told his previous coach Mike Malone, who was fired against the will of his players early last season for being 11-13 without an injured Cousins, to consider playing four players on defense vs. five while using a cherry-picker to get layups on the other end. The reason? It worked for Ranadive when coaching his daughter's middle-school basketball games.
Despite knowing this, Karl's hubris blinded him and he wanted this job. He desperately wanted to coach in the NBA again after getting fired by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 following a 57-win season and Coach of the Year honors.
He'd have been better off waiting because coaching gigs in the NBA come open routinely. The Kings have talent worth coaching, but it's about more than just on the floor. It's the support system, the "team" behind the scenes, which is why some places are more desirable to coach than others. Everyone realizes that this is a hired-to-be-fired position.
Ranadive is a brilliant businessman, a self-made software billionaire, but has yet to figure out his lane and how to stay in it when it comes to basketball. For him to tell a coach like Karl, who has been on NBA sidelines since 1984, played for Dean Smith and the North Carolina Tar Heels and then spent five years in the NBA as a player, how to do his job is insulting. That's like Karl telling Ranadive how to run his software businesses.
Ranadive will keep striking out to find a credible coach if this continues unless that coach is a "yes" man which will immediately make him no longer credible. When your franchise is respected -- think the Oklahoma City Thunder when they lured Billy Donovan from the University of Florida -- you don't have to beg a coach to come. These Kings, however, will spend a lot of time on their knees.
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