Leading Off

Kings didn’t give George Karl enough time to work his magic

When Kings fans look back at the 2014-15 season, they won’t look at the firing of Michael Malone as the team’s biggest mistake.

It’ll be the hiring of George Karl.

Days after Valentine’s Day.

Instead of days before Christmas.

If the Kings had hired Karl in December, soon after they fired Malone, there would have been plenty of games left on this season’s schedule for the veteran coach with 1,131 career regular-season victories to work the same kind of magic he did with the SuperSonics and Nuggets – teams that hired him to put out fires in the middle of a season and reach the playoffs – and the Bucks, who went to the playoffs with Karl in a short season.

In the 1991-92 season, the Sonics were 20-20 when Karl took over in Seattle. The team went 27-15 under Karl and reached the playoffs.

In the 50-game, lockout-shortened season of 1998-99, Karl guided Milwaukee, which had gone 36-46 the previous season, to a 28-22 record and into the playoffs.

And in Denver during the 2004-05 season, Karl led a 17-25 team to a 32-8 mark to reach the playoffs.

Every team Karl has coached, including the Cavaliers and Warriors, reached the playoffs in his first season.

Karl, who will be introduced to the media on Tuesday at 2 p.m., faces perhaps his biggest coaching challenge. With just 30 games left this season, there is not enough time, and perhaps not enough talent, for Karl to work his magic.

At this point, it would take a miracle to turn the Kings into playoff contenders.

▪ Outside of DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, every player on the Kings’ roster should be available ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. That being said, how big would it be to put together a package to bring shooting guard Kevin Martin back to Sacramento?

– Victor Contreras

vcontreras@sacbee.com


What to watch

College basketball:

Kentucky at Tennessee,

4 p.m., ESPN: The No. 1 Wildcats face a tough road test against the Vols.


On this date

2001: Arnold Palmer, 71, is the first player to shoot his age in a PGA Tour event since Sam Snead 22 years earlier. Palmer finishes the fourth round of the Bob Hope Classic at 1-under-par 71.

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