15 December 2014

In firing Michael Malone, the Kings continue to be defined by dysfunction

(USATSI)
For the Sacramento Kings, one can surmise that their season to this point has been a success. DeMarcus Cousins has been fantastic and the team finds themselves just on the outside looking in in the playoff hunt even with Cousins being out the last nine games and the team going 2-7 as a result. For a franchise that has been all over the place the last decade, this seems like good news, right?

Nope, hence why the team stunned the NBA by firing coach Michael Malone early this morning.

Now as you dive into the weeds of this decision, you find the reasoning, or "reasoning," behind this move. Malone was not hired by general manager Pete D'Alessandro but preceeded him by two weeks after he was hired by owner Vivek Ranadive. Generally the general manager comes first for obvious reasons but according to the reporting, the two immediately clashed due to different styles as Malone was more of a defensive-focused coach while D'Alessandro, and Ranadive as well as team consultant Chris Mullin, wanted more of an offensive focus. Couple that with unreasonable expectations for this team from the front office and you have a firing.

But given all of that, this just feels silly. Ranadive aggressively courted Malone after he bought the franchise with Malone's reputation as a defensive coach (as well as a fiery guy). Not to mention that this roster is not exactly suited to be running all over the court given their offensive focus is in the paint with Cousins.

Not to mention that the timing is odd with Sacramento starting off the season well and only struggling of late with an injury to their best player. If there were significant issues between Malone and the front office, the team should have moved in the offseason. Now with the team being led by the immortal Tyrone Corbin as the team hopes to court, among others, George Karl whose style fits what D'Alessandro, Mullin and Ranadive are looking for, they simply won't be going anywhere this season. Corbin can't coach and he is not known for leading an aggressive offensive unit after his days in Utah but likely will incorporate more of what the front office is looking for, including the crazy idea of playing four-on-five defense, as suggested by Ranadive, while leaving one defender behind to cherry-pick as Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Now Malone is certainly no Red Auerbach but he certainly has done a better job amid the dysfunction in Sactown that the other coaches that succeeded Rick Adelman, and he was doing a good job this season. His stunning firing only continues the dysfunction and furthers the quickly-growing reputation of Ranadive being one of the more unusual owners in the league.

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