After several days of intense negotiations, George Karl has agreed to take over as Kings head coach after this weekend’s NBA All-Star break, The Bee has learned.
An official announcement is expected within the next few days. Terms of the deal were not available, though Karl was seeking a four-year contract in excess of $4 million per season.
An introductory news conference will be held next week in Sacramento. Team executives are postponing the formal media session to avoid detracting from center DeMarcus Cousins’ All-Star debut Sunday in New York.
Karl’s first game will be next Friday, Feb. 20, against Boston at Sleep Train Arena.
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Karl, 63, replaces Tyrone Corbin, who led the Kings to a 7-20 record since taking over after Michael Malone was fired on Dec. 14. The Kings, who started the season a surprising 9-5, are 18-33 entering today’s game against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Corbin will coach tonight’s game.
The Bee first reported Saturday that the Kings were negotiating with Karl, and that it was believed Cousins and his representatives were opposed.
“Of course my name is going to get thrown into it. I’m the franchise,” Cousins said Saturday. “I’m waiting just like you guys. It’s always going to be he say-she say. Until you hear it from the horse’s mouth, that’s what it’s going to be.”
On Sunday, after making the game-winning basket as the Kings beat the Suns 85-83, Cousins clearly was noticeably agitated and gave an impromptu rant.
“I ain’t pumped up. I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” he said. “The crazy thing about it is, I’ve just got a question for y’all: How you gonna stop God’s plan? How you gonna do that? How you gonna do that? That’s all I want to know. How you gonna stop God’s plan? ... The marathon continues. I’m out.”
On Tuesday, Cousins issued a statement through his agents at Relativity Sports and urged the Kings to make a decision.
“I wasn’t consulted when the decision was made to fire Mike Malone and I’m not being consulted now,” Cousins said in the statement. “I just hope they make a decision soon and stick with it. George Karl is an experienced, proven coach and if that is who they chose to coach this team, I will support it. I do not like all these discussions in the media while we have a coach in place. It is a distraction and not fair to coach Corbin and this team.”
After the abrupt firing of Malone, who feuded with majority owner Vivek Ranadive and not been on speaking terms with general manager Pete D’Alessandro for the several months, the original plan was to retain Corbin for the rest of the season and conduct an extensive coaching search in April.
The list of the candidates would have included Karl, sixth in NBA career coaching victories, assistants Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan, and head coaches Tom Thibodeau of the Bulls or Scott Brooks of the Thunder, should either have become available. Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson was another possibility.
But the team’s ongoing slump, visible lack of competitiveness, and an increasingly disgruntled fan base prompted management to move more quickly.
Karl, 63, is in the process of putting together a coaching staff. It is unclear how many if any of the current assistant coaches will be retained.
Karl’s record as an NBA coach is 1,131-756 in the regular season and 80-105 in the playoffs. Karl led the Denver Nuggets to a 57-25 record in his last season before being fired in 2013.
Call The Bee’s Ailene Voisin, (916) 321-1208.
KINGS COACHES IN SACRAMENTO ERA
Kings coaches and their records since the team moved to Sacramento in 1985:
Garry St. Jean