SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – The Sacramento Kings and George Karl are discussing a deal for him to take over as coach, a person with knowledge of the talks said Monday.
The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were private. A second person said no announcement was expected Monday night, but that interim coach Tyrone Corbin has been told he will coach the Kings in their final two games before the All-Star break: Tuesday at Chicago and Wednesday at Milwaukee.
If hired, Karl could coach the Kings in their first game back on Feb. 20 at home against Boston. That also would give him a few practice days to help ease the transition.
The Kings made the surprising move to fire Michael Malone in December after an 11-13 start in his second season as coach, even though they had shown progress until All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins came down with viral meningitis and missed 10 games. Sacramento has continued to slide since it promoted Corbin from lead assistant, losing 12 of its last 14 games and 20 of 27 overall since Malone’s dismissal.
Karl is a proven winner in the league, and would be a familiar face for Sacramento’s front office. Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro and assistant general manager Mike Bratz worked with him in Denver.
Karl last coached in the 2012-13 season, when he won NBA Coach of the Year with the Nuggets before being fired following a first-round playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors. D’Alessandro left Denver that summer and brought Bratz with him to Sacramento.
Karl, who has been working as an analyst for ESPN, has let it be known the last two months that he wants another shot on the sidelines. He has openly talked about his interest and recently thanked fans in Sacramento and Orlando — which fired coach Jacque Vaughn last week — for their support on Twitter.
The 63-year-old Karl, a cancer survivor, is one of six coaches in league history to eclipse 1,000 wins. He has 1,131 victories as a head coach, with stops in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle and Milwaukee, earning a reputation for turning around teams.
Sacramento certainly presents another one of those challenges.
The Kings are headed for a ninth straight losing season and are trying to rebuild around Cousins, who has a history of clashing with coaches but was close with Malone — and did not support his firing. Cousins clearly doesn’t like being dragged into the situation, though, venting his frustration to reporters after hitting the game-winning shot against Phoenix on Sunday night.
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