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' Buddy Hield admits he went out night before 3-Point Contest win

Kings' Buddy Hield admits he went out night before 3-Point Contest win

Buddy Hield played a different kind of "flu game" in his NBA 3-Point Contest win Saturday night. 

The Kings sharpshooter admitted to reporters in Chicago for All-Star Saturday Night that he enjoyed all the Windy City had to offer the night before his victory. 

"I had no routine this morning. I went out last night," Hield said after his down-to-the-wire win over Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker on Saturday. "So I was just chilling. It was All-Star Weekend. You got to have fun, too. So it was cool. I was just relaxing. I came in, and I just locked in."

Hield diligently reported to his 9:15 a.m. CT media availability Saturday morning "clearly hurting," according to The Athletic's Joe Vardon. 

Whatever Hield did to recover between then and the 3-Point Contest worked. Hield posted back-to-back 27-point rounds, nailing each of his last six shots in the first and seven of his last eight as he tried to surpass Booker. 

The 27-year-old needed to make his final shot -- worth two points from his "money ball" rack -- to beat Booker, and he was ice-cold from the left corner. 

"I think I heard the guy on the PA, the announcer, and I had [25 or] something like that," Hield told reporters in Chicago. "I know Devin had 26, so I knew I had to make one more to top him. I was focused. I was locked in on that part."

[RELATED: Hield's dramatic 3-point contest win had fellow Kings hyped]

Hield enjoyed the win Saturday night and what it would mean to people in his hometown, using his press conference to dedicate his win to those affected by Hurricane Dorian. The storm struck his native Bahamas over the summer with sustained winds of over 185 mph, officially killing 70. Over 600 others might have drowned and been washed out to sea, officials said. 

"I dedicate it to them because, like I say, I represent my country to the fullest," Hield said. "When I say that, I really mean it because without my upbringing, I'm nothing. I know what it's like to be in a hurricane. I haven't been in a Category 5, but, no, this goes to them for sure.

Kings get hyped during Buddy Hield's dramatic NBA 3-point Contest win

Kings get hyped during Buddy Hield's dramatic NBA 3-point Contest win

Buddy Hield won the NBA 3-point contest in dramatic fashion, and his Kings teammates loved to see it. 

Hield beat out Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker on his last shot of the night, sending his squad into a social-media frenzy.

The Kings' Twitter account relished in the win, too, chirping their counterparts with the Suns and NBA 2K for jumping the gun with their predictions. 

DraftKings gave Hield only the sixth-best odds to win the 3-point contest (+700), with only Zach LaVine and Devonte' Graham having worse chances in the oddsmakers' eyes. 

[RELATED: Purple Talk Podcast breaks down Kings at All-Star break]

Hield became the first King to win the competition since Peja Stojaković won back-to-back in 2002 and 2003. NBA All-Star Weekend is in Indianapolis in 2021, and Hield can join Stojaković, Craig Hodges,  Jeff Hornacek, Mark Price and Jason Kapono as the only players to win multiple 3-point contests. 

His teammates and social-media colleagues once again will have their Twitter fingers ready to go if he enters again.