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Kings fire assistant coach Vance Walberg, direct blow to George Karl

Gonzaga v Pepperdine

MALIBU, CA - JANUARY 14: Head coach Vance Walberg of the Pepperdine Waves looks on against the Gonzaga Bulldogs on January 14, 2008 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

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Assistant coach Vance Walberg has been tight with Kings’ coach George Karl for a long time — he was the first coach Karl hired in Sacramento to help him bring the up-tempo, spread offense Karl loves to the Kings (because owner Vivek Ranadive wanted his team to play that style). The Kings play at the fastest pace in the NBA this season.

The offense that has always been a terrible fit with DeMarcus Cousins and the talent on the Kings’ roster.

Wednesday the Kings fired Walberg. James Ham of has the details.

This is a shot across the bow of Karl, a way to force offensive changes by sending his system guy out the door. It’s an attempt to jolt this team toward the playoffs, they have 4.5 games to make up and need to get on a run.

Not that it will matter long-term — nobody around the league thinks Karl will be coaching the Kings next season.

The offense also isn’t the Kings’ biggest problem — they are 13th in the NBA in offensive rating. The problem is the 25th-ranked NBA defense — they play a system that requires good perimeter defenders, something the Kings lack. There are rumors the Kings will ask Karl to hire a defensive-minded coach for that vacancy. Although they already have an assistant focused on defense.

It’s the Kings, this is what they do. Expect some roster shakeups, too.