13 February 2015

Will George Karl be able to end the dysfunction with the Kings?

Ever since parting ways with Rick Adelman in 2006, the Sacramento Kings have gone through eight head coaches, including two in this season alone. They have not had a winning season in almost a full decade and they are well on their way to another disappointing season this year. Of course they did appear to be making progress under Michael Malone, but he was shockingly fired two months ago and the team has gone 7-21 since under Tyrone Corbin.

After many years of hiring first-time head coaches (the lone exception being Paul Westphal, who had not coached in eight years), the Kings are bringing in a proven winner and one of the winningest coaches in league history, George Karl. But even with his resume, can Karl turn around this franchise?

This head coaching process has been a bizarre one to say the least for the Kings. The Malone decision was a ridiculous one but what the front office, most notably owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Pete D'Allesandro, wanted in terms of the team's style of basketball differed greatly from what Malone wanted. Even though they had been rumored to be interested in Karl from the time they fired Malone, they did not seem to show any urgency in luring him, particularly when they pulled the interim tag off of Corbin in late December. But as Karl went public about his interest in coaching the Orlando Magic, that seemed to force the Kings' hand.

All of that aside, this is still a very good hire. Karl has the connections with D'Alessandro given their time in Denver and he should run a style of basketball akin to what the front office wanted. But more importantly he has shown an ability to adjust his style of basketball to the personnel at hand.

But the controversy has late has surrounded whether or not the team's lone star, DeMarcus Cousins, approves of the hire. Cousins was clearly not happy with the ousting of Malone  and there had been reports that he was opposed of the Karl hiring, to which Cousins responded that he was not involved in any coaching decision and would support whoever the Kings hired.

Alas, the Karl-Cousins will be one to watch. Cousins has greatly matured this season and he has taken big steps forward in his game as well. But he is clearly frustrated that the team has struggled to build a winner around him. Karl represents the team's best opportunity to build a winner and will be the best coach that Cousins has ever played for. Karl also has the experience of coaching star players with strong personalities in the past that will certainly come in handy. There is a reason why they say that "winning cures all"  and if Karl can build a winner in Sactown, you would think that he and Cousins would get along just fine.

Karl's record speaks for itself as he has only missed the playoffs once when coaching a team over the course of a full NBA season. He will have his work cut out for him with a franchise that has been a consistent disappointment over the years but he has a star to build with in Cousins and a front office that has shown its willingness to make aggressive moves to try and improve the team. For the first time in a while, there is some reason for a Kings fan to have some optimism for the club going forward.

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