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Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Vlade Divac were so livid about a blowout defeat to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night – the franchise’s sixth loss in seven games – they were strongly weighing the firing of coach George Karl, league sources told The Vertical.
“An overreaction to the loss” was how one league source involved in the conversations on Karl’s job status described the organization’s response late Friday night.
As hours passed following the 128-119 loss to the Nets, there were indications that Karl could be spared long enough to coach the Kings on Sunday in Boston. Nevertheless, Karl has rapidly lost support in management and some parts of the locker room, league sources told The Vertical.
The loss to Brooklyn – one of the league’s worst teams at 13-38 – fostered further dissatisfaction with the Kings’ defensive performance under Karl this season. Karl, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, was hired in mid-February a year ago, replacing interim coach Tyrone Corbin. The revolving door of Kings coaches has contributed to the franchise’s instability.
The Kings have dropped to 21-29, three and a half games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Ownership has an expectation that this team should make the playoffs. Kings star DeMarcus Cousins seemed to indicate that the team’s porous defense was a result of far more than the players’ effort and execution, implying that coaching played a significant role in the struggles.
"I'm not going to keep blaming these guys in the locker room," Cousins told reporters in the locker room. "Energy and effort is a huge part of the game, but I'm not going to keep blaming it on that. We got a bigger issue, and we need to figure it out as a team."
Ranadive made the decision to fire coach Michael Malone in December 2014 when the Kings had an 11-13 record and had been without Cousins for several games. He pushed out general manager Pete D’Alessandro months later, replacing him with Divac.
Across several years of instability with the team, Ranadive has progressively lost the support and belief of the multiple minority owners involved in the franchise, league sources said.
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