Kings Blog

Kings don’t make a deal before deadline

The Kings will make their playoff push with their current roster after failing to make a trade before Thursday’s noon deadline.

The Kings had hoped to add an impact player and a perimeter defender.

League sources said the Kings tried to acquire Chicago center Pau Gasol and swingman Tony Snell for center Kosta Koufos and guard Ben McLemore.

There also were discussions with Cleveland about receiving center Timofey Mozgov and guard Iman Shumpert for Koufos and McLemore, sources said.

The sources wished to remain anonymous because they did not have authority to discuss the matter.

Sacramento’s only move was firing assistant coach Vance Walberg, who is noted for his offensive acumen while the Kings struggle on defense.

“Sometimes things that don’t materialize turn out to be good things,” said Kings general manager Vlade Divac. “ … I’m OK with it.”

But the Kings have had trouble stopping players at both guard spots all season. Divac still believes the Kings are talented, saying the team received inquiries about most of its players.

“I believe we have really good talent,” Divac said. “The way we play, I’m not happy about it.”

Divac said Karl still has the option of adding “a defensive-minded coach who can bring that part to our team.” The Kings have yielded a league-high 109.1 points per game.

Sacramento would have to find a team that would allow an assistant out of a contract or hire a coach not working for a team.

“It’s kind of hard, but it’s possible,” Divac said.

Divac said he wouldn’t hire an assistant for just the rest of the season.

“Whatever we do now, it’s not just for the next two months,” Divac said. “We’re doing it long term.”

Walberg did not oversee the defense, but Divac said the team, which he believes has under-performed, needed a shake-up.

“I would love to see our team be good defensively,” Divac said. “That’s just something we have to work at, but it’s not all about coaches. I think it’s more on the players, and they realize it.”

The Kings are 10th in the Western Conference, four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They have lost eight of their past 10 games.

Karl said he’s still pleased with how the Kings have played overall and the focus must be on passing Utah and Houston in the standings.

“I honestly think Portland is going to be pretty difficult to catch,” Karl said of the seventh-place Trail Blazers, who lead the Kings by 4 1/2 games.

Karl said he is more focused on upcoming practices than adding another coach. He added that there will be little time for long practices after next Wednesday, so he wants to make the most of this time to work on defense.

“My thing is I think we play down a little bit to our competition,” Karl said. “I would like to see us respect our opponent every night. (The Kings are) a new team; it’s a team searching for its identity. As much as I’m disappointed in some of the losses, I’m also pretty positive about how we’ve played in a lot of ways.”

McLemore said the trade talk did not bother him. He spent the All-Star break in Hawaii with his girlfriend and said he didn’t look at his phone for updates.

Thursday was a regular day, McLemore added.

“I came in here just to get better and let my agent handle all that stuff,” he said.

The Kings host Denver on Friday in Nuggets coach Michael Malone’s first game back since he was fired as Sacramento’s coach in December 2014. Karl conceded that Denver’s style gives the Kings problems and those areas were focuses of practice.

Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein said the Kings must start trusting each other defensively to return to the top eight in the West.

Over the past two weeks, the team dealt with rumors that Karl was going to be fired during the All-Star break and then multiple reports on possible trades.

“We’re in a hole, and we’ve got to use each other to get out of it,” Cauley-Stein said. “At this point, we’re all we got. (Nobody else is) getting fired; nobody’s getting rid of (any players). We’ve just got to accept the fact that nobody’s leaving and work the last 29 games.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments