CLEVELAND -- For Kings coach Michael Malone, it’s quite simple to point out the best part of his five years as a Cleveland assistant.
“Being with LeBron (James),” Malone said with a smile.
Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers was Malone’s first as a head coach at Quicken Loans Arena. Malone was part of Mike Brown’s Cleveland staff from 2005 through 2010, including a trip to the 2007 Finals, where the Cavaliers lost to San Antonio.
“It was a great five years here, obviously the winningest five-year span in Cavaliers history,” Malone said. “Working with Mike Brown, we had a tremendous staff, great chemistry. And obviously when you win, everything’s great.”
Malone credits Brown with helping his career develop. After Brown was fired following the 2009-10 season, Malone’s reputation as a promising coach grew with New Orleans and Golden State before he was hired by the Kings.
Malone has so much respect for Brown, who was rehired in April, he admitted it wasn’t easy to be on the winning side of the Kings’ 44-point blowout of the Cavaliers in Sacramento on Jan. 12, and he said he never would want to appear to be trying to embarrass Brown.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in without those five years and the opportunity Mike Brown gave me,” Malone said. “A lot of fun, a lot of great people and relationships that I still value very much.”
Working his way back – Kings forward Carl Landry has played in 13 games, averaging 12 minutes since returning from a torn hip flexor.
Landry would have been a key part of the bench if not for the injury, which has kept the Kings’ major free-agent signing last offseason from having more of an impact.
“It’s a work in progress,” Malone said. “He’s still not in 100 percent game shape and he’s still not fully recovered.”
The plan was to work in Landry slowly after his Jan. 19 debut at Oklahoma City. Injuries to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay two games later forced the Kings to rely on him more.
But as the team has gotten healthier, Landry has played less. He hasn’t played more than eight minutes in the last four games, which includes seven minutes Tuesday.
“His first game in Oklahoma City, he looked great,” Malone said. “I think he’s been a little bit inconsistent, but that’s to be expected. We haven’t lost a bit of confidence in him at all.”
Landry had six points and a rebound in the Kings’ 109-99 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.