Kings

Luke Walton officially hired as Kings' new coach on four-year contract

Luke Walton officially hired as Kings' new coach on four-year contract

The last time Kings general manager Vlade Divac conducted a coaching search, it spanned weeks, with more than 10 candidates drawing interviews.

With a new contract extension in hand and complete control of the Kings’ franchise, Divac is taking a different approach this time.

Luke Walton officially became the Kings' new coach Monday, the team announced, just four days after Dave Joerger was fired. Walton will be introduced at a press conference later Monday.

“I have known Luke for many years, and I am so excited to welcome him and his family to the Sacramento Kings,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a team-issued statement. “I look forward to his leadership on the court as we work to build a winning culture for many years to come.” 

Walton and the Kings agreed to a four-year contract Saturday, only one day after he mutually parted ways with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sam Amick of The Athletic was the first to report the deal, and NBC Sports California confirmed the details with a league source.

The Kings would not reveal terms of Walton’s deal, citing team policy.

The former player-turned-coach posted a 98-148 (.398) record during his three seasons in Los Angeles, but he dealt with myriad issues behind the scenes.

Before joining LA, the 39-year-old son of NBA legend Bill Walton worked under Steve Kerr as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors. He spent two seasons in Oakland, including a 43-game stint as an interim head coach while Kerr dealt with back issues.

Walton posted an incredible 39-4 record as a fill-in for Kerr, and even took home NBA Coach of the Month honors during his time.

Following Walton’s departure from the Lakers, Kerr shared his thoughts on his former understudy.

“As this job, as a coach in the NBA, you are 100 percent dependent on your circumstances -- the strength of the organization, the momentum, the unity -- everything has to be in good order,” Kerr said Friday at Warriors practice. “Because if it’s not, as we’ve witnessed with the Lakers, then there’s going to be casualties, and usually the coach is the first one.

“They are losing one of the best human beings in the NBA, they’re losing a guy who knows the game as well as anybody I’ve ever met, they’re losing somebody players believe in and players want to play for,” Kerr added.

The Kings have a strong young core. They posted a 39-43 record under Joerger this season, but they chose to go in a different direction after missing the playoffs for a 13th consecutive season.

During his Thursday press conference announcing Joerger's firing, Divac was clear that he wanted a coach who would continue to run the up-tempo style Sacramento became known for this season. 

[RELATED: Divac fires Joerger, takes full ownership of Kings' future]

"Our new coach, which I'm looking for, has to bring, first of all, that style we had last year -- that's Kings style," Divac said. "We have to play that way. Uptempo and moving the ball and communication and defined roles and, obviously, believing in the team."

The Lakers finished fourth in the NBA in pace, just ahead of the Kings. They were second in pace last season before LeBron James joined the franchise via free agency.

Walton is the 18th coach for the Kings since the franchise relocated to Sacramento prior to the 1985-86 season. He is the 10th coach since Rick Adelman left the post after eight years at the helm following the 2005-06 season.

Kings kick off 2019 NBA Draft workout season with six NBA hopefuls

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USATI

Kings kick off 2019 NBA Draft workout season with six NBA hopefuls

The search for a diamond in the rough has begun in Sacramento. With head coach Luke Walton looking on, the Kings held their first predraft workout.

It won’t be an easy search for Vlade Divac and his team. Sacramento doesn’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft, although they own selections No. 40, 47 and 60 in the second round.

NBC Sports California confirmed that Stockton Kings head coach Ty Ellis and player development coach, Bobby Jackson helped run the six-man workout.

A late addition to the lineup, guard Armoni Brooks out of Houston is likely testing the waters before returning to college for his senior season. At 6-foot-3, 196-pounds, Brooks has shown improvement in each of his first three seasons at the NCAA level. He posted 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 39 percent from long range for the Cougars.

“Everytime you come to one of these workouts, we’re all really good players,” Brooks told media members. “You’ve just got to find a way to impact the game in little ways - defense, rebounding, just doing the little things to separate yourself.”

Icelandic guard (via Davidson) Jon Axel Gudmundsson is an intriguing prospect. At 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, he stuffed the stat sheet in his junior season, posting 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He had a down shooting year from distance, hitting just 35.3 percent from 3-point range, but he shot 40.6 percent as a sophomore, so there is room for growth.

Despite growing up overseas, Gudmundsson has watched plenty of NBA games and he even knows a little about the Kings.

“This year I feel like it was kind of their rising year,” Gudmundsson told reporters. “I feel like they’re coming up and I feel like next year is going to be a playoff team and they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”

Xavier Sneed out of Kansas State and Yoeli Childs from BYU matched up at the forward position. Sneed posted modest numbers as a junior and is undersized for a three. Childs averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds in his third college season.

“It’s awesome,” Childs told Sacramento reporters about the draft process. “It’s so much fun. You’re so close to living the dream that you’ve had your whole life. I really try to not take a single moment for granted. I’m really feel just blessed to be here.”

Reggie Perry from Mississippi State and Kevin Samuels out of TCU provided the post play. Perry is the youngest of the lot at just 19-years-old. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his lone NCAA season.

Samuels, 21, is the big body of the group. Measuring in at 6-foot-11, 250-pounds, the Horned Frogs center posted a modest 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game.

Perry is the only player from the current group that was invited to the NBA Combine in Chicago. None of the six prospects are currently listed on most two round mock drafts, but plenty can change in the next few weeks.

This is only the beginning for Sacramento. They will likely hold multiple workouts like this over the next month as we build up to the June 20 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

NBA odds: Kings' 2019-20 title odds increase following 39-43 season

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USATSI

NBA odds: Kings' 2019-20 title odds increase following 39-43 season

For the first time in a long time, the Sacramento Kings are moving in the right direction.

Coming off a 27-win season in 2017-18, the Kings made a push to finish at the .500 mark this past season, but fell short, ending up with a 39-43 record.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season, but considering most projections have them winning 25 games, it was a successful year.

With the emergence of point guard De'Aaron Fox, shooting guard Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III, and the addition of forward Harrison Barnes, Las Vegas has increased the Kings' chances of winning the NBA title to +7500 during the 2019-20 season.

[RELATED: Labissiere learning on Blazers' bench]

Now, granted, their odds aren't great, but they are better than what they entered the 2018-19 season with, when Caesers had them at +100000, according to Kings.com.

The Kings have high hopes entering next season. They desperately want to end their playoff drought and believe they have the team that can do it.