George Karl – in a move Doug Gottlieb dubbed “one of the worst-kept secrets in the history of the NBA” – became the new head coach of the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. Karl, 63, is expected to sign a four-year, $14.5-million deal.
“Not surprised, obviously, because we knew this was in the works,” Bleacher Report NBA analyst Ric Bucher said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They actually first talked to him last summer, so they were planning to make a move on Mike Malone. It was just a matter of when.”
Malone was fired in December after the Kings started 11-13 – far better than most people envisioned. The Kings (18-34) have since gone 7-21 ever since.
Bucher is eager to see how Karl gets along with DeMarcus Cousins, who leads the team in points (23.8), rebounds (12.5) and blocks (1.7).
“How is that going to work?” Bucher asked. “Because George, in his previous iterations in various places, Shawn Kemp is the best big man he’s ever coached. Shawn, being a power forward, fit in with being able to play up-tempo. DeMarcus can, too. DeMarcus can handle, he can run the floor, but he’s been through a lot of beatings.”
But forget about the X’s and O’s. How are Karl and Cousins going to coexist as people?
“The thing I’m more curious about is how are they going to get along as far as personalities are concerned?” Bucher asked. “Because you know George. He makes the sarcastic comment. He’s not afraid to say things to the public about players that are critical. Players in this day and age are not accustomed to that. And when you take DeMarcus, who’s already been taking a beating in Sacramento, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays.”
Looking big picture, though, how do the Kings fix their issues? They were one of the best teams in the NBA in the early 2000s, but they haven’t finished with a winning record since 2005-06.
“Nobody thought that Mike (Malone) was going to be the answer, that he was going to take them to the promised land,” Bucher said. “But he was implementing the right mentality. They had a focus on defense. The offense was simple. It’s baby steps. You want to know the answer (to) how do they fix this thing? Stop trying to do it in leaps and bounds. Stop trying to think that you can turn this team in a year and compete with the Golden State Warriors. And the reason I point them out is because Vivek Ranadive, the owner, was a minority owner with the Golden State Warriors. And as somebody in the league told me, every time they play the Warriors, it’s his Super Bowl. He so wants to show that he can build a better mouse trap than they did. And he’s trying to get there in a hurry. And you simply can’t. They were moving in the right direction. Now it’s almost like they’re starting over again.”