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Sacramento Kings make it official: George Karl’s their man

George Karl leads Denver during his tenure with the Nuggets. Coaching his last three teams, he missed the playoffs once in 21 years.
George Karl leads Denver during his tenure with the Nuggets. Coaching his last three teams, he missed the playoffs once in 21 years. The Associated Press

The Kings announced Thursday that George Karl had agreed to take over as head coach.

But the more interesting news was that former coach Tyrone Corbin will remain with the team as an adviser to the front office.

Corbin took over as head coach when Michael Malone was fired Dec. 14, and the team announced later that month that he would coach for the rest of the season. But Corbin was 7-21, so the Kings reached out to Karl.

Over the past week, players voiced their support of Corbin, who continued to coach as the Kings negotiated with Karl. Unlike Malone, the popular coach he replaced, Corbin will still be around.

“I have the utmost respect for Tyrone as a coach and person,” Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said in a statement. “He’s a man of great integrity, a consummate professional that managed a difficult situation with class and professionalism. I look forward to continuing to work with Tyrone.”

Before coaching the Kings against the Bucks on Wednesday, Corbin said he wanted to set an example of how to deal with adversity, especially for a team with a lot of young players.

After meeting with Kings officials Sunday, Corbin knew his job was not guaranteed beyond games at Chicago and Milwaukee this week. And, barring a collapse in negotiations, that Karl would take over after the All-Star break.

Corbin has declined to discuss his talks with management, but he admitted he was not working under ideal conditions.

“It’s not an easy situation to be in,” Corbin said. “But I have to move forward, and I have to make sure I am an example to my players on this young team. They go through ups and downs and have things to deal with, and I have to be an example to them on how they handle themselves in those times.”

The Kings’ sometimes lethargic play was a factor in the pursuit of Karl.

The initial drop in performance after Malone’s surprising firing wasn’t surprising, but the Kings haven’t rebounded under Corbin.

As the Kings’ public courting of Karl continued, players expressed support for Corbin. Even All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins said more than once that Malone’s firing was no excuse for how the Kings played and that players needed to execute the coaches’ game plans.

On Wednesday, Cousins declined to discuss Corbin’s final message to the team.

“That’s something that’s between us,” Cousins said. “Just know we appreciate Ty Corbin and this whole coaching staff.”

Kings forward Rudy Gay shared similar sentiments Wednesday. He said Corbin had a tough job replacing Malone and trying to implement a new style of offense.

“I commend this team,” Gay said. “I commend Ty, I commend the rest of the staff, because it’s been really hard to stay focused with the things that have been going on off court. It’s been tough, but everybody in here stayed professional. Obviously we didn’t get the wins we wanted or expected, but for the most part we stayed professional.”

Karl is expected to add some assistant coaches, and the status of Corbin’s aides – Corliss Williamson, Micah Nori, Dee Brown and Ryan Bowen – is unclear.

When Malone was fired, his top assistant, Chris Jent, also left the team.

A news conference to introduce Karl likely will happen early next week after the All-Star break.

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