Kings center DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t know George Karl very well, but he certainly is familiar with his résumé.
“He’s a Hall of Fame coach,” Cousins said Friday during media sessions for the NBA All-Star Game. “That’s all I really need to know.”
Though Karl hasn’t been enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, it seems likely he will be. Karl, the Kings’ new coach, has the sixth-most wins in NBA history.
The Kings officially announced Thursday that Karl was taking over, the same day Cousins arrived in New York for All-Star Weekend. Cousins hopes Karl will bring stability to the team, which has been affected by the recent uncertainty.
Karl will be Cousins’ fifth head coach in his five NBA seasons, and the third this season. Michael Malone was fired Dec. 14 and replaced by Tyrone Corbin, who will move into an adviser role in the front office.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a coach for longer than a year and half, maybe,” Cousins said. “It feels good to know I’ll have one for the long haul, at least for now. That’s a good feeling in itself.”
Cousins, the Kings’ first All-Star since 2004, wasn’t able to enjoy the recognition until he arrived in New York, because of all the uncertainty about the coaching situation.
Cousins said he’s excited to work with Karl.
“He’s a good coach,” Cousins said. “Really haven’t gotten a chance to talk to him. So many things have happened at the same time, so we really haven’t gotten a chance to talk. Everybody knows he’s a great coach, and I’m excited to move forward.”
Karl told the ESPN Radio show “SVP & Russillo” that Cousins is “probably the most talented big guy I’ve ever coached.”
Karl compared Cousins to Shawn Kemp, the athletic big man who starred for Karl with the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1990s.
“I think Cousins is probably a little more skilled than Shawn was,” Karl said. “Shawn was probably a little more athletic and had a little more speed.”
Karl said he likes a basketball team that plays fast and together, but he also must help the Kings establish themselves on defense again. The Kings have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA since Malone was fired.
“I’ve got to build it around their talents, I’ve got to build it around their skills, and the No. 1 talent is DeMarcus,” Karl said. “He’s a 20 (points) and 20 (rebounds) guy, sometimes even when he doesn’t play well, so I’ve got to figure out how to make him better.”
The only King with any history with Karl is forward Reggie Evans. Cousins said he’s talked to Evans, who played for Karl in Denver.
“Reggie said he’s a great coach,” Cousins said. “He’s excited, I’m excited, the team’s excited.”
Cousins had a close relationship with Malone and didn’t want him to be fired. He has made it known he wasn’t happy to see Malone go, but he said it’s time to go about making the Kings better rather than dwelling on the past.
“It doesn’t really matter how I feel about it, it happened,” Cousins said. “All we can do is move forward. It really doesn’t matter how I feel about it.”
Cousins will do that with a coach who admires his skills.
Karl has been known to be a fan of Cousins’ play, and he easily will be Cousins’ most accomplished NBA coach.
Karl has won 1,131 games and reached the postseason in 22 of his 25 seasons.
The Kings have 30 games left this season. After starting 9-5 and inspiring talk of making the playoffs, the Kings are 18-34 and thinking more about how to build for next season.
“I feel like it’s an early training camp,” Cousins said. “That’s a way we can approach it, basically to prepare for next season.”