After spending last week fending off rumors his job was in jeopardy, Kings coach George Karl was mum on the news of the first coach to lose his job this season.
Houston fired Kevin McHale on Wednesday morning, a move that drew criticism from many big names around the NBA, including McHale’s rival from his playing days, Magic Johnson.
The Rockets were 4-7, like the Kings. McHale guided the injury-riddled Rockets to the Western Conference finals last season.
Karl is one of the best talkers among NBA coaches, but he didn’t have much to say on the topic.
“I better keep my mouth shut,” Karl said.
It was said McHale had “lost” the locker room in Houston after the Rockets had suffered lopsided defeats to teams considered inferior. During the Karl speculation last week, there was talk that Karl was losing his players’ attention.
One coach who had no problem speaking to that issue was Denver’s Michael Malone, who spoke to reporters before the Nuggets played at San Antonio. Malone was the first coach fired last season – by Sacramento after 24 games.
“I can only speak to my experience (in Sacramento),” Malone said. “It was loud and clear that I didn’t lose the locker room. Once I got got fired, the organization lost the team in a weird way.”
Malone added he would be “surprised” if the Rockets had really tuned out McHale.
Speeding up – Rookie Duje Dukan was back with the Kings after playing in the NBA Development League with the Reno Bighorns in their season opener last week.
I didn’t really understand how fast they play until I got down there.
Duje Dukan, after his first game with the Reno Bighorns
Dukan, who was undrafted out of Wisconsin but impressed the Kings enough during summer league to earn a roster spot, called the game “a great experience.”
Dukan returned to the Kings after one game because of a right knee bone contusion. It’s not considered serious, and Dukan expects to return to the Bighorns as soon as this weekend.
Dukan discovered the difference between the fast tempo at which the Kings want to play and the frenetic pace the Bighorns use under coach David Arseneault Jr.
How else would you explain being disappointed in scoring “only” 121 points?
“I didn’t really understand how fast they play until I got down there,” Dukan said. “... His theory is we can get a great shot up within 12 seconds, so that pretty much tells you how fast.”
Dukan scored 14 points in a loss to the Los Angeles D-Fenders last Friday.
New lineup – The Kings used their ninth different starting lineup of the season when Quincy Acy started at forward with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins in the frontcourt.
Rajon Rondo and Ben McLemore were the starting guards.