The Kings have received permission to interview assistant coaches Elston Turner of Memphis and Nate McMillan of Indiana for their head-coaching position, according to league sources.
Memphis’ season ended Sunday after the Grizzlies were swept by San Antonio in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. McMillan can interview after the Pacers’ season is over. Indiana trails Toronto 3-2 in their best-of-seven series, and Game 6 is Friday in Indianapolis.
The Kings already have interviewed three former NBA head coaches – Sam Mitchell, Vinny Del Negro and Mike Woodson – and have had extensive talks with a fourth, Hall of Fame player Kevin McHale, to gauge his interest. The Kings fired George Karl after their 33-49 season.
Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson also will interview for the job. He was not retained two years ago, despite leading Golden State to a 51-31 record. Steve Kerr, who replaced Jackson and won the NBA Coach of the Year award this week, credited the defensive foundation by Jackson with making his job easier.
Sacramento also is interested in Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton but has not received permission to interview him, and it’s uncertain if the Kings will meet with him.
The Warriors have given the Los Angeles Lakers permission to interview Walton, and the Lakers are considered the front-runner if Walton leaves Golden State. Houston also reportedly has received permission to interview Walton.
Turner, 56, was a Kings assistant coach under Rick Adelman from 2000 to 2006 when current Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac was one of the team’s top players. Turner, an assistant for the Grizzlies since 2013, has interviewed for multiple head-coaching vacancies in recent years, including with Portland, Minnesota and Phoenix.
Turner was largely responsible for Sacramento’s defensive strategies under Adelman. Though the Kings were known for their offense in those years, they also were one of the best teams in defensive efficiency.
Turner was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1981 in the second round (43rd overall) after leading Mississippi to its first NCAA Tournament berth as a senior. He also played for the Nuggets and Bulls during his eight-year NBA career and overseas.
McMillan, 51, has been an Indiana assistant since 2013. He went 212-183 (.537) as Seattle’s head coach from 2000 to 2005 and 266-269 (.497) as Portland’s head coach from 2005 to 2012. He also has been an assistant coach with Team USA.
McMillan was a top defender when he played for the Seattle SuperSonics (1986-98), and the team retired his number.
It’s not a surprise the Kings are considering defense-oriented coaches. Sacramento has been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA during its 10-year playoff drought.