Sexual assault allegation against Luke Walton puts Kings in tough situation


Sexual assault allegation against Luke Walton puts Kings in tough situation

After celebrating Luke Walton's arrival as the franchise’s new coach just a week ago, the Kings now are embroiled in a controversy not of their own making.

Walton has been accused of sexual assault by former sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant. Her civil lawsuit paints a startling picture of Walton forcibly attacking a woman with whom he had a long-standing business relationship. Four pages of the suit can be found here.

Through his attorney, Walton has vowed to fight the allegations.

"Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations," Mark Baute said. "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom."

All of this is playing out in real time, so the Kings have very little time to make a difficult decision on Walton and his future with the team. The Athletic's Sam Amick cited a source in reporting the Kings still are in the fact-finding stage of the process and the prospect of firing him has no momentum at this time.

Here is where we are less than 24 hours after the revelation.

What did Vlade know?

According to league sources, Kings general manager Vlade Divac was unaware that allegations were pending against Walton. It’s possible Walton didn’t know the lawsuit was coming either.

In addition, both the Lakers and the Warriors -- Walton’s two previous employers -- as well as the NBA, were surprised by the lawsuit. The alleged incident happened while Walton was an assistant coach for the Warriors, a position he held from 2014 to 2016. The exact date of the alleged event is still unknown.

Following his stint with the Warriors, Walton was hired in 2016 by LA, where he spent three seasons as the team’s coach. He mutually parted ways with the Lakers on April 12 of this year, and less than 24 hours later, he was in Sacramento preparing to sign on the dotted line with the Kings.

It was a whirlwind of events, but not unheard of in the NBA. Coaches often are let go in the days following the end of the season.

Walton’s situation with the Lakers was heading for a quick split, and Divac moved in to acquire an up-and-coming young coach who also was his former teammate during his playing days.

It should be noted that Steve Kerr, Walton’s head coach in Golden State, had this to say about his former understudy after learning about his split from the Lakers: “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."

We don’t know what the Kings’ vetting process was in this situation, but if neither of his previous employers had a clue about this alleged incident, there is a good chance that nobody knew.

What do the Kings do now?

It’s a difficult decision. Walton’s reputation is hanging in the balance. Divac’s might be as well if he sticks with his newly hired coach.

Sacramento can take a cautious approach and thoroughly vet the allegations at hand. In conjunction with the NBA, they’ve already started the fact-finding process.

This is a difficult path. While Walton is innocent until proven guilty, allegations like this usually stick with a person long after the case is settled.

It’s a "he said, she said" situation, which never is easy to parse out, but Divac and the Kings need to know for sure that this isn’t the beginning of something bigger. If stones weren’t turned over before, they need to be now.

The Kings also could decide to terminate Walton’s contract now and jump right back into the coaching carousel. Other quality coaches are available, although the hiring process is starting to heat up. Coaches like Monty Williams and Ettore Messina, whom the Kings were interested in a little over a week ago, still are available, although they're linked to other openings around the league.

Either way, the Kings need to act decisively, and time is of the essence. This can’t be a dark cloud hanging over the franchise for the foreseeable future. They must sift through the facts quickly and decide whether Walton still is a viable option to coach the team.

Kings fan makes good on pledge, gets married in Harry Giles jersey


Kings fan makes good on pledge, gets married in Harry Giles jersey

Whenever Richard and Kate Ivanowski look at their wedding photos, they will think of Kings forward Harry Giles.

That's because Richard got married to Kate this weekend while wearing a Giles jersey under his suit jacket.

Why did Richard wear a Giles jersey during his wedding? This all came about in early June when he asked his then-fiancé if he could wear a Kings jersey during their wedding. She said yes, but only if he got 10,000 retweets on Twitter.

It took about one day for Richard to hit the 10,000 retweet mark.

So, this weekend, Richard and Kate got hitched with a Giles jersey visible in their photos.

Giles himself was pretty pumped about it.

[RELATED: How Giles helped Ivanowski's plan wedding]

A few decades from now, when Richard and Kate are showing their wedding photos to their grandkids, they'll have to explain who Giles is and why his jersey was a part of their wedding.

That will be a unique story to tell.

Source: Kings unlikely to pursue free agent center Nikola Vucevic

Source: Kings unlikely to pursue free agent center Nikola Vucevic

SACRAMENTO -- The rumor mill is only going to heat up as we approach the start of the NBA’s free agency period on June 30. With $35-38 million to spend, the Sacramento Kings are going to get mentioned plenty, and often the reports will be inaccurate.

Vlade Divac and his team have placed an emphasis on improving the center position, but according to a league source, while the team holds Nikola Vucevic in high regard, the team is not expected to chase the Orlando Magic big man in free agency, despite reports to the contrary.

After posting 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game this season, Vucevic is primed to sign a mega contract, whether it’s with the Orlando or elsewhere.

The 28-year-old is skilled and made his first All-Star team this season, but he’s not a great fit for the Kings’ uptempo style of play.

There are plenty of other centers on the market this summer. Dewayne Dedmon and DeAndre Jordan are both unrestricted free agents and might work as short-term fixes. Jordan is on the wrong side of 30 and Dedmon isn’t far behind, but both are solid rebounders and defenders.

Memphis Grizzlies big man Jonas Valanciunas just opted out of his contract for this season and is an unrestricted free agent. At 27-year-old he fits the age arc of the Kings’ roster, but again, isn’t exactly built for an uptempo style.

The team hasn’t shut the door on a return of the incumbent starter, Willie Cauley-Stein. He is long and athletic, but his inconsistent play continues to concern the Kings.

[RELATED: How Lakers' Davis trade impacts Kings]

Sacramento is likely to extend the 25-year-old a qualifying offer before the beginning of free agency, locking him into restricted free agent status. They will wait to see how the market materializes for the former No. 6 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft before making a final decision on his future with the team.