The Kings are all too familiar with gastroenteritis.
Three players have already missed games because of the stomach illness this season, and coach George Karl joined the list Thursday, missing the Kings’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center.
Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi and Kosta Koufos have all missed a game this season for the same reason.
Associate head coach Chad Iske assumed head-coaching duties for the game.
Never miss a local story.
Iske said Karl informed him around 2:30 p.m. that he was too ill to coach. Iske said Karl wasn’t as vocal as normal at the team’s morning shootaround, and that instead of the usual post-shootaround lunch, Karl headed back to his hotel room.
“There’s always an adjustment,” Iske said. “It’s a big difference from one seat to the next, but I’ve been with George for so long I feel like we’re on the same wavelength with a lot of the stuff. It’s just a lot of the decisions we talk about and he makes, now it’s my turn to make those decisions myself with the help of the rest of the staff.”
Iske spent six seasons as an assistant under Karl in Denver. But it’s been more than a year since Iske had to assume coaching duties.
“Last year, when I was in Philadelphia, I did a preseason game when Brett Brown wasn’t able to,” Iske said. “That was kind of the last time I had a game in this setting, close to this setting.”
Iske said Karl didn’t offer a lot of advice and that his instructions were simple.
“We’ve been together for a long time,” Iske said. “I know what he wants. We’re usually on the same page and just go enjoy it and go get a win.”
No Toronto, no worries – Even though he leads the NBA in assists, Rajon Rondo was considered a long shot to make the Western Conference All-Star team.
Rondo was an All-Star four times with the Boston Celtics, but not many expected much from him with the Kings after a turbulent stint with Dallas after a trade last season.
But Rondo has been the passing wizard he was in Boston, entering Thursday averaging 11.8 assists, two more than John Wall and Russell Westbrook, for the league lead.
Rondo said the All-Star Game wasn’t something that weighed on his mind before the reserves were announced.
“I’m just praying for health,” Rondo said. “Just trying to stay healthy and get better each game and do what’s best for the team. If it happens, it happens. But it’s not a big letdown if I don’t make it.”
Rondo was not among the seven reserves announced for the West. DeMarcus Cousins is on the team, as expected.
Still out – Gay is still not with the team because of a left corneal abrasion to his right eye. He’s now missed two games since being hit in the eye by Kemba Walker during Monday’s loss to Charlotte.