McNair explains Kings' decision to fire Walton after 17 games


The Kings made a big move Sunday afternoon, firing head coach Luke Walton during his third seasons with the team. 

Sacramento has struggled the previous two weeks, posting a 1-7 record in their previous eight contests, which led to Walton being relieved of his duties

Associate head coach Alvin Gentry, who has a history of being a head coach in the NBA, will replace Walton.

General manager Monte McNair held a press conference a few hours after the change was made, and explained the decision to move on from Walton. 

“After a thorough evaluation of where we’re at, I’ve decided to make a coaching change," McNair told reporters. "As you’ve seen, coach Luke Walton has been relieved of his head coaching duties, and Alvin Gentry will be our interim head coach.

“At the beginning of the year, we were 5-4, we thought we could be even better with how we had played, we didn’t finish a few games there. The last eight games have not been that, and that prompted the change. I think we have the talent, we’ve shown that we can do that. We’re going to get back to that, and Alvin is going to be the guy to lead us there.”

The Kings, who are laden with exciting, young talent, showed promise throughout the first 10 games of the season, but have struggled mightily since. McNair specified exactly what he would like to see differently from both an organizational and team standpoint moving forward. 


“I think we all know that all of us have to be better," McNair said. "Especially over the last two weeks, these last eight games, is not meeting expectations. That’s not just on Luke, that’s on me, that’s on the rest of us, our coaches and players, and everybody acknowledges that. Our focus tomorrow is to start getting back on track to some of the things that we have shown early on in the season. And it’s on all of us to get there.

“I think offensively we’ve played fast at times, I want us to play even faster. I think we can be the fastest team in the league with De’Aaron [Fox], Tyrese [Haliburton], the rest of the guys that we have. Defensively, we’ve shown some improvement, but we have to be able to finish possessions, we have to be able to get off the floor on the defensive end and get into our offense. We have to finish games."

The Kings' coaching staff remains mostly intact, and McNair believes there will be some things that stay the same under Gentry, but expects the 67-year-old coach to add his own element to the team.

“I think Alvin, and certainly the rest of our coaching staff, there will be some continuity," McNair added. "But also Alvin’s done a great job at many different spots. I think Alvin’s seen a lot of things, has a wealth of experience and I think Alvin will put his stamp on things. We’ve shown we can do this, we just have to get back to it and do it consistently.”

RELATED: Gentry named Kings' interim coach after Walton fired

The only other notable change to the coaching staff, is assistant coach Rico Hines moving to the front of the Kings' bench, which McNair announced during the press conference. 

McNair addressed the team privately, and said the players remain confident and ready to bounce back in their first game with their new head coach Monday night. 

"We addressed the team, I think the guys remain confident," McNair told reporters. "We all know we have to get out of this 1-7 stint that we’ve had. I think there’s a belief in that locker room, I have a belief in that locker room and talking with Alvin and the rest of the coaches they do too. No doubt that we’ll get out of there and the guys are excited for tomorrow.”


The Kings host the Philadelphia 76ers Monday at 7 p.m. PST at Golden 1 Center.