Chad Iske is new to Sacramento, but working for Kings coach George Karl certainly isn’t.
Iske, one of three assistant coaches on Karl’s staff in Denver, is co-head coach of the Kings’ summer league team.
Iske, who joined the Philadelphia 76ers’ staff after Karl was fired by the Nuggets in 2013, is working for his former boss again, helping to implement the uptempo and aggressive style Karl wants to use in the regular season.
But Iske isn’t the only familiar face on Karl’s staff. John Welch, the other co-head coach for summer league, and Vance Walberg also were assistants for Karl in Denver. Welch coached for Brooklyn last season, and Walberg left the 76ers to join the Kings last season, shortly after Karl was hired.
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Corliss Williamson is the only coach left from Michael Malone’s staff.
Karl has said he likes to stay in the background during the summer, but he’s been in tune with what the Kings are doing to prepare for the summer league in Las Vegas that starts Friday.
“He’s very involved,” Iske said. “We have meetings each morning, we have meetings each afternoon. But a lot of us, we’ve been together eight years, so it’s something we’ve done in the past. So I think we’re all very familiar with each other, so it makes it easy. It’s not something we’re just starting.”
Same terminology, same style of offense. Just run and gun.
Guard Julyan Stone on the Kings’ style
The Kings also have players on the summer league roster who played for Karl in Denver or in Philadelphia for his assistants. James Anderson, a free agent who agreed to a deal with the Kings last week, played for Iske and Walberg in Philadelphia. Guard Julyan Stone played for Karl and his three assistants in Denver.
“I’m lucky to be here with coach Karl, coach Chad, coach Welch, I played for all of them,” Stone said. “But an opportunity in the league is an opportunity in the league. You’ve got to go out there and make the most of it.”
Stone last played in the NBA during the 2013-14 season for Toronto and played last season in Italy. He said it hasn’t been difficult picking up what the coaching staff wants.
“Same terminology, same style of offense,” Stone said. “Just run and gun.”
Iske said having players like Anderson and Stone makes it easier to teach. Even with practices twice a day during the minicamp, there’s not much time to prepare for the summer league, which kicks off with a game against Toronto on Friday.
“A lot of times the players learn from each other,” Iske said. “If they see someone doing what we want, it kind of clicks for them.”
The goal is to run the floor hard to get early offense and sprint back on defense.
“We try to make it a situation where it’s not overly complicated,” Iske said. “We just space the floor and play basketball.”
Kings first-round draft pick Willie Cauley-Stein played a similar style at Kentucky, which he said has helped him pick up the nuances of the offense. That’s good because one focus of summer league will be getting the rookie as ready as possible to contribute in the regular season.
“Willie’s way ahead of the game,” Iske said. “Willie’s done a great job of just running and getting down the court early and then playing behind or under the defense. We try to penetrate a lot, and we want Willie right by the rim to tip it in if we miss it or (to be) a target on our penetration to pass it to him for easy baskets. I think that’s something he’s going to excel at.”
Iske likes the way the team has looked in practices and the effort by the players.
“We’ve got a group of guys that have been working extremely hard; they’re very coachable,” Iske said. “They’re a very athletic team. I think we’re going to play very fast. It should be a lot of fun.”