The Kings reached an agreement with Mike Malone to become their new head coach, The Bee has learned.
Malone, most recently the lead assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, agreed to a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth year. The contract would be worth more than $9 million over four years.
The deal cannot be announced until escrow closes on the sale of the team today at 5 p.m.
Malone is the first major hire under the new ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive. Ranadive's group purchased the team from the Maloof family, and the NBA approved the sale Tuesday after a bid to sell and relocate the team to Seattle was rejected.
Meanwhile, the search for a new general manager is ongoing. Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie will not return but continues to assist with draft preparations along with the rest of his staff.
Malone will replace Keith Smart, who compiled a 48-93 record after replacing Paul Westphal early in the 2011-12 season.
Malone, 42, is a highly respected assistant coach who was going to be considered for at least one high-profile opening, with the Los Angeles Clippers.
So rather than wait to hire a new general manager, the Kings reached a deal with Malone. The son of former longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, Mike has served as an assistant at New York, Cleveland and New Orleans in addition to Golden State.
Malone's defensive expertise is well regarded in league circles. It was considered just a matter of time before Malone became a head coach.
"Since I've been with him in New Orleans, every year teams have called about him," said Warriors forward Carl Landry, who also played for the Kings. "Everybody in the NBA knows he has the potential to be a head coach. When he gets his chance, I think he'll make the most of it."
Malone's coaching career began soon after his playing career at Loyola College in Maryland ended. He graduated in 1994 and headed to Oakland University in Michigan.
That was followed by stops at Providence College (1995-98), Virginia (1998–99) and Manhattan College (1999-2001), all as an assistant, before he joined the Knicks.
After four seasons in New York starting as a coaching associate, Malone joined Cleveland, where he worked with LeBron James. In 2010, Malone headed to New Orleans, helping the team allow 8.7 fewer points (94 per game) in the 2010-11 season and working with Chris Paul.
Malone will be tasked with reeling in a team of players who favor one-on-one basketball and often played lackadaisical defense.
The Kings allowed a league-worst 105.1 points per game in 2012-13.
Malone also must figure out how to maximize the talent of center DeMarcus Cousins and limit the incidents that led to friction with past coaches and to suspensions.
The Warriors aggressively persuaded Malone to join Mark Jackson's staff rather than reunite with ex-Cavaliers coach Mike Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011.
Ranadive will not rush to replace Petrie.
Golden State assistant general manager Travis Schlenk and Memphis general manager Chris Wallace have been in contact with the Kings.
San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford also was reported to be on a list of targets of Ranadive to replace Petrie.
Buford told the San Antonio Express-News that he is not interested in the Sacramento opening.
"I'm exactly where I'm going to be," Buford said. "I have no idea what kind of a list anybody has, but I'm exactly where I want to be."
Former Indiana general manager David Morway is another possible candidate. Other names that could be mentioned to Ranadive include former Warriors general manager Chris Mullin and Indiana's current general manager, Kevin Pritchard.
Pritchard might be available if Larry Bird returns to the Pacers in the front office.
Whoever is hired must decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to guard Tyreke Evans to make him a restricted free agent as the roster is reshaped.