Report: Luke Walton will continue as head coach of the Kings
While it seemed Luke Walton’s seat should be getting hot from the outside, he was always confident he would return to coach the Kings next season.
It appears with good reason — Walton will return as the Kings coach for the 2021-22 season, reports the well connected James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
According to a league source, Luke Walton will continue as head coach of the Sacramento Kings next season.— James Ham (@James_HamNBA) May 17, 2021
Kings finished the season strong with a 9-7 record over the final 16 games, despite injury and illness.e\ Walton also has a strong working relationship with Kings GM Monte McNair and the front office.— James Ham (@James_HamNBA) May 17, 2021
Players continue to show strong support for Walton as well, which was once again the case today when Tyrese Haliburton, Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes all spoke fondly of their head coach.— James Ham (@James_HamNBA) May 17, 2021
What really saved Walton’s job was money. He reportedly has $11.5 million remaining on his contract after this year and — in an unusual move for a coaching contract — that money cannot be stretched out if he is fired. After a season where the Golden 1 Center was empty and cash was not flowing into the organization leading to massive losses, firing Walton was not considered worth the cost. At least not yet. The buzz around the league for most of the year has been owner Vivek Ranadive was talking down his coach privately.
The Kings finished the season 31-41, two games back of San Antonio for making the play-in, eight games back of the eighth-seeded Warriors. While injuries played a role, the Kings did not take a step forward this past season.
Not all the Kings’ problems can be laid at the feet of Walton — the previous front office regime bet big on Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 pick and that has not panned out. The Cory Joseph signing last summer did not work as hoped. Kings’ general manager Monte McNair has a lot of work to do.
Sacramento missed the playoffs for the 15th straight season this year, tying it with Donald Sterling’s Clippers for the longest drought in NBA history. Ranadive desperately wants to end that trend next season and get back to the playoffs.
It looks like Walton will get the chance to lead that charge.