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Kings notes: Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to join team on trip

Former Chicago Bulls head coach Thibodeau, whose calling card is defense, is spending a few days with the Kings on their four-game road trip that began Wednesday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
Former Chicago Bulls head coach Thibodeau, whose calling card is defense, is spending a few days with the Kings on their four-game road trip that began Wednesday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Associated Press file

Former Chicago Bulls coach and noted defensive mind Tom Thibodeau is spending a few days with the Kings on their four-game trip that began Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Kings are one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams, but Kings coach George Karl said Thibodeau’s presence is not about simply picking up defensive ideas.

“I think he’s intrigued by our offense and we’re probably intrigued by his defense,” Karl said. “Spent about three or four hours with him last night and three or four hours with him (Wednesday).”

Karl said Thibodeau will probably leave the Kings on Saturday when the team plays San Antonio.

“(I will) sit on the plane (to Dallas) with him, analyze and scrutinize and hopefully find some good answers,” Karl said. “I think he’s intrigued by the shots we get, the easy shots. I think he’s a much better offensive coach than he gets credit for, but his last couple of years with Derrick Rose being hurt and their numbers went down.”

Karl said he talked to Thibodeau about visiting the Kings during training camp but schedules didn’t align. Thibodeau has “probably been to 10 teams already this year,” Karl said.

“He’s a top mind in the game of basketball and it’s fun to be around guys like him,” Karl said. “It’s stimulating for my staff and stimulating for me.”

Karl said he makes a point to catch up with friends in the coaching business when he can. Former Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks visited the team twice early in the season.

“Last time we were in Dallas, I spent time with my friend Del Harris,” Karl said. “And if I run into (Don) Nelson, I’ll spend time with him. Mike D’Antoni, Scott Brooks, guys who have kind of been around me.”

Karl said hearing different perspectives on his team is beneficial.

“You always kind of like to see somebody else’s eyes on your product,” Karl said. “You kind of get tainted by the anger and the frustration and the losing. You don’t always see the good out there.”

College rules – Karl said he’s tried to remain positive even with the Kings’ recent losses. Wednesday’s 104-98 defeat at Memphis was Sacramento’s 12th loss in the past 16 games.

The coach said he just wants to see his team play well later in games and “play more of a 48-minute (game).”

“I joke with my staff all the time,” Karl said. “I say ‘We’d be really good if we were a college team.’ 

College teams play 40-minute games.

Change up – With Rudy Gay (strained right shoulder) out for a second consecutive game, the Kings started Omri Casspi in his place.

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James Anderson started the other game Gay missed, Monday against Oklahoma City, because Karl wanted Anderson to start out defending Kevin Durant.

Memphis started Matt Barnes at small forward, who does not pose the offensive threat of Durant, so Karl was comfortable starting Casspi.

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

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