Michael Malone doesn’t know Rick Adelman well. But when Malone was hired last year as coach of the Kings, it was Adelman, a former Kings coach, who reached out to him.
“He was calling on behalf of some of the people he worked with, with the Kings,” Malone said. “Then we moved on to talk about basketball life if you will. I’ve always respected him from afar but never had a real chance to get to know him. I enjoyed those conversations. He’s a hell of a coach, and he’s been doing it at a very high level for many, many years.”
Adelman, now the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, didn’t reveal what he discussed with Malone but had good things to say about him before Sunday’s game at Sleep Train Arena.
“I don’t normally do it,” Adelman said of calling Malone. “He’s going to be a good coach. ... They have pieces to build around, very good young pieces.”
Adelman mentioned DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas as the key pieces. Adelman also said it wasn’t easy dealing with the big in-season trade that sent four players to Toronto for Gay.
“He’s keeping them playing,” Adelman said. “They have a young team. I don’t think you can judge a guy from one year.”
Adelman said he hadn’t thought about Sunday’s game possibly being his last coaching in Sacramento. Adelman’s wife, Mary Kay, has had health problems, and there has been speculation Adelman might retire.
Malone said he simply hopes her health improves and that he can have the type of success Adelman had with the Kings. Sacramento has not made the playoffs since Adelman was fired in 2006.
“Rick Adelman will go down as one of the best coaches in NBA history,” Malone said. “His body of work speaks for itself.”
Not done yet – Gay has missed three of the last four games because of a lower back strain, but Malone hopes to have him back for Wednesday’s season finale against Phoenix at home.
Gay played Saturday in Los Angeles against the Clippers, scoring 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting, but sat out Sunday’s game.
“We have a couple of days before we play Phoenix,” Malone said. “If it would be a risk of further damage, we would shut a guy down. If there’s nothing that’s going to do further damage, we’ll see how he feels and if he’s able to give it a go, last home game of the season, I don’t see why not let him play.”
Making their case – Malone said the Kings would appeal to have the two technical fouls called on Ben McLemore in Saturday’s loss to the Clippers rescinded.
They were McLemore’s first technicals of the season and his first ejection.
On the first technical, McLemore tried to stop Blake Griffin from scoring by wrapping him up and did not know traveling had been called and the play was over. McLemore’s second technical came for pushing J.J. Redick in the face on a play when McLemore said he was trying to create space to get open.
The Kings were shocked one of their quietest players was ejected.
“That’s not who Ben is, and that wasn’t his intent,” Malone said.