Leading Off: Kings players beware - front office will back Malone

11/11/2013 12:00 AM

11/11/2013 6:24 AM

Eric Musselman inherited a playoff team in 2006, but he was fired when he failed to get the Kings to the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Reggie Theus couldn't turn the tide in Sacramento, and Kenny Natt was never really given a chance.

Paul Westphal tried to enforce discipline and accountability inside the Kings' locker room, but he didn't have the support of the front office or ownership.

Keith Smart? He lost the team – if he ever had it – after he was verbally backhanded by DeMarcus Cousins.

So you'll have to excuse Michael Malone if the first-year Kings coach hasn't been able to right the ship through six games. After all, Malone is paddling against an unyielding current that has left this franchise floating adrift for the past seven seasons.

Fans will need to remain patient. It won't be easy to change the losing culture. It will take time and effort, not just by the coaching staff but by the players, who so far have played as though they're not interested in putting the team ahead of personal goals, as Malone demands.

But why should the Kings play hard for a rookie coach who has never been a head coach or played a minute in the league? They didn't play for Theus, an NBA star during his playing days, or Westphal, who was a winner as a player and coach.

Malone will be given every chance to succeed because he has the support of the general manager and ownership, and players may soon find out that instead of the coach being shipped out after a season or two, it will be those who can't play for Malone.

Sacramento is 1-5 thanks to a horrendous defensive effort and selfish play – the same horror flick Kings fans have seen for too long.

Malone will change the team's lineup this week, with the backing of the front office, sending a message throughout the locker room.

Either you play the way the coach wants you to play, or you don't play at all.

Today's poll

Will a new starting lineup help the Kings?

Yes, players will fight for minutes.

No, starters need more time.

Vote above; or go to sacbee.com/sports

Weekend poll

Which is the best team in the NFL?

Broncos 14%

Chiefs: 26%

Colts: 3%

49ers: 36%

Patriots: 1%

Saints: 1%

Seahawks: 16%

Other: 2%

Total votes: 371

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