According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Sacramento Kings handed Luke Walton his walking papers on Sunday, just 17 games into year three of his tenure as head coach. I wouldn’t call Walton a great coach, but he certainly isn’t the reason for the ineptitude displayed by this Kings franchise for the better part of the past 15 years.
Walton leaves Sacramento with a record of 68-93, and after a decent start to this season the team began to crumble, losing seven of its last eight before his firing Sunday. The Kings are a very young yet talented team featuring De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Marvin Bagley III, and Buddy Hield. They even have some veterans sprinkled in with Harrison Barnes and Maurice Harkless. But no combination of youth and experience has been able to release the Kings from the dungeon of the Western Conference in a long, long time.
Walton is only the latest scapegoat coach that management will blame their lack of direction on instead of looking at why this organization can’t seem to get out of its own way on and off the court. Since the end of Rick Adelman’s eight-year Sacramento stint in 2006, no Kings head coach has lasted more than three years, and most of them haven’t made it through three full NBA seasons.
Recently, the Kings seem to have hit on only one, maybe two, draft picks over the last handful of years. Fox is already a young rising star in the league, and Haliburton might not be too far behind in that respect. Bagley isn’t wack, but when players like Luka Dončić and Trae Young are in your draft class, and you get drafted ahead of them, the career comparisons will never cease. Dončić was right there, and Vlade Divac, the Kings’ GM at the time, passed on him for some unknown reason. Divac has denied not drafting Luka because of his father, making his passing on Dončić in 2018 even more mind-boggling. It’s gotten to the point where fans are completely disgusted by what’s happening in Sacramento.
Whoever the Kings bring in as their next head coach isn’t going to fare any better than the previous seven. I don’t often say there is no hope, but at this point, there isn’t much left for this franchise in terms of building a winning culture. The move for the Kings is likely a fire sale of their roster where Hield, Bagley, and Barnes are likely to be moved onto better situations. It’s a never-ending cycle of baffling moves and misses by this franchise. The Kings had their best run under the Maloof brothers in the early 2000s before that fell apart. Current owner Vivek Ranadivé either doesn’t have a clue or has the wrong basketball people around him. I’d say it’s both because this team has failed year after year under his leadership. Vivek should have fired Vivek.
So, it matters very little who the head coach is in Sacramento. The outcome will continue to be the same until things change upstairs and the front office finds a way to pull their heads outta their arses. Until that happens, this revolving door of coaches will continue to swing until someone with a plan comes in to tighten up those hinges.