The Sacramento Kings are in “serious back-and-forth” discussions with former NBA head coach George Karl about their coaching position, a source told Yahoo Sports on Saturday.
The Kings and Karl’s representatives are expected to continue discussions. Sacramento (17-31) has lost 10 of its last 11 games and 18 of 24 since firing coach Michael Malone in mid-December. If Karl, 63, were hired, he would replace interim head coach Tyrone Corbin.
Karl has professed to the Kings that he would concentrate solely on coaching and not front-office moves, a source said. He has also told the Kings that he is a huge fan of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.
The Kings do have some concern that Karl could get interest from the Orlando Magic for their coaching opening as well, a source said.
Karl has a 1,131-756 record as an NBA head coach and ranks sixth all time in coaching victories. Karl and Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro worked together with the Denver Nuggets, whom Karl began coaching in 2004. The Nuggets fired Karl after he was named the NBA Coach of the Year following the 2012-13 season. Karl also coached Hall of Famer and Kings adviser Chris Mullin with the Golden State Warriors for two seasons in the ‘80s.
Karl’s ability to win games with a lesser roster is known as one of his strengths since his days coaching in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association. During the 2004-05 season, the cancer survivor took over the Nuggets at midseason and led them to the playoffs with Carmelo Anthony. Karl has a strong personality and has been known to sometimes conflict with front offices and not always see eye to eye with players. Karl does have experience coaching numerous NBA superstars, including Mullin, Anthony, Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups, Ray Allen, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.
The Kings, though, are aware that Karl is a bit of a favorite with fans, a source said. Karl has used Twitter to engage fans of the Kings and the Orlando Magic, who fired coach Jacque Vaughn on Thursday.
On Friday, Karl tweeted a message that read in part: “It’s no secret I would love the opportunity to coach one more time. Love the skills and speed of the Magic and the great young players in the league!”
In December, he had a message for Kings fans:
I want to thank all of the @SacramentoKings fans & supporters for the very kind messages. It has not gone unnoticed.Dec. 22, 2014
Sources have previously said the Kings could also have interest in former NBA head coach Mark Jackson, who went to St. John’s with Mullin and D'Alessandro; Golden State assistant coach Alvin Gentry; and former Kings guard and current NBA television analyst Kenny Smith. But the Kings are strongly focused on talking to Karl at the moment, a source said. Sacramento has four more games before the All-Star break.
The Sacramento Bee first reported the Kings’ discussions with Karl.
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