Addressing reporters on Sunday, Kings general manager Monte McNair explained why the team fired head coach Luke Walton just 17 games into the season after initially deciding to bring him back for the 2021/22 season.
“The start of the year was a lot of what we were hoping for, and we really thought it could have been even better,” McNair said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “I think we saw a lot of the things that we thought this team could do, but these last eight games were a change, and, for me, the question became what’s the best way to move forward, and that’s my job at every point in the season.”
The Kings began the season with a 5-4 record, but have since dropped seven of eight games. That stretch included losses vs. San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Minnesota, and Toronto, all of whom are multiple games below .500.
“It wasn’t any one thing,” McNair said. “It was a combination of things, but sitting here with where we’ve been the last two weeks, we felt we weren’t getting the consistency and certainly the results we wanted. We all need to be better. This is not on any one person, but we did feel this was the change that was best to get us back to where we need to go.”
Here’s more on the Kings and their head coaching change:
- McNair said on Sunday that he still believes the Kings have enough talent to make the playoffs and thinks Alvin Gentry is capable of leading them there. The team chose Gentry over other assistants – like Doug Christie – as its interim replacement due to his previous head coaching experience, McNair added (Twitter links via Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento).
- Kings player development coach Rico Hines will move to the front of the bench as one of Gentry’s assistants, McNair said (Twitter link via Anderson).
- Michael Pina of SI.com and Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer take a look at what’s next in Sacramento following Walton’s exit, with Tjarks suggesting that the Kings will soon need to determine whether De’Aaron Fox is still the player they want to build around.
- The timing of Walton’s dismissal is another “Kangz” moment for Sacramento, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that a coaching change made in the first third of a season probably should’ve just been made during the offseason.