NEW YORK -- The All-Star break that begins today for the Kings wont be an extended respite for coach Michael Malone.
With the Kings near the bottom of the Western Conference most of the season, Malone plans to mix in plenty of film study while spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Malone will look for ways to maximize the final 29 games.
We still have an opportunity to establish the identity we want to have moving forward, he said. Thats my whole challenge moving forward after the break is keep this team together, stay positive, continue to teach, and pound that rock that defense is going to be our calling card and has to be.
The Kings 18-35 record forces Malone to think big picture.
In the Eastern Conference, if you win two or three games, youre back in the playoff hunt, he said. Unfortunately in the West, thats not necessarily the case.
Return home Malone grew up in New York and said he had to purchase too many tickets for family and friends to watch his first game as a head coach in Madison Square Garden.
Among those attending were Malones parents. His father, Brendan, was on the Kings coaching staff but left before the regular season, deciding the grind of a full season would be too much.
Malone hasnt stopped hearing from his dad.
I get a text from him after every game, Malone said. Just like when I was a young kid playing, no matter what happens, win or lose, theres no gray area. Its direct, its honest assessment, which is great (and) which is why he was going to be a valuable member of the staff because of his experience as a head coach and an assistant.
As a native New Yorker, Malone said its always special to coach in Madison Square Garden. He got his start as an NBA coach with the Knicks under Jeff Van Gundy in 2001.
I had four very crazy years here, Malone said. New York is a funny place. Just when you dont think things can get any worse, they continue to get worse at times. So in my four years here, I worked for four different head coaches.
After the break Per NBA rules, the Kings will be allowed to practice Monday night after the All-Star break before hosting Golden State on Wednesday.