NBC Sports

Fox throws support behind Walton remaining Kings' coach

NBC Sports
Kings

Since Rick Adelman left following the 2005-06 season, the Kings' coaching job has been nothing but a revolving door. Luke Walton is Sacramento's 10th head coach in 15 seasons, and his tenure beyond the next four games is anything but secure.

That is, unless the franchise listens to their star player.

In a ranging interview with SI’s Howard Beck, De’Aaron Fox threw his weight behind Walton, even if the quote came deep in the article.

“If you're not winning as a team, guys get traded, guys who were barely hanging on … get cut and are out of the league and coaches get fired,” Fox told Beck. “Players play together longer and develop chemistry, and coaches continue to grow and trust all their players.”

“Everybody wants to continue to grow together and keep this group together, and continue to play for a coach that you trust in,” Fox added.

Those are powerful words from the 23-year-old point guard who usually steers clear of team politics.

Walton is finishing the second year of a four-year contract he signed during the Vlade Divac era of Kings basketball. He is still owed $11.5 million over the next two seasons, which is a bit of a sticking point when considering that the Kings have lost more than $100 million during the pandemic.

Despite a rollercoaster ride of a season that includes two nine-game losing streaks, Walton has the Kings at 30-38 on the season, just 2.5 games out of the play-in tournament with four games remaining. He has kept the Kings in the conversation, despite a flawed roster and a string of injuries down the stretch of the season to key players. 

 

They are a long shot to make the play-in game, but it has been a long time since the Kings made it this deep into the season still in any sort of contention. 

It has been a rough season, filled with major highs and lows. But even during the darkest times, both Fox and Harrison Barnes put the blame on the players, not Walton and his coaching staff.

Whether that means anything when the season concludes on Sunday is unknown at this time. 

Walton has forged a relationship with new general manager Monte McNair, with the two talking almost on a daily basis. It’s also possible that McNair, who inherited Walton when he was hired in September, has someone else in mind for the post. 

McNair is also one of a handful of voices making important decisions behind the scenes in Sacramento. Owner Vivek Ranadivé is never far from these discussions and his Chief Strategy Officer, Joe Dumars, will likely have an opinion as well.

RELATED: Fox confirms coronavirus diagnosis: 'Hit me like a truck'

Walton is also known as a player's coach who gets along well with his team. During his two seasons at the helm, he has posted a 61-79 record with the Kings, which equates to a .436 win percentage.

Shockingly, that win percentage is second behind only Adelman’s .633 percentage during the 36 seasons the Kings have been in Sacramento. 

It should be an interesting few days in Kingsland. Did Walton do enough to earn another year? Will McNair search for his own guy? Does Fox have enough of a voice to impact the decision?

Like everything else in Sacramento, this is a complicated subject.