Kings to retain George Karl after meeting with Vlade Divac

ByMarc Stein ESPN logo
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Sacramento Kings, in a dramatic about-face, have decided against firing coach George Karl after a meeting Tuesday between Karl and general manager Vlade Divac, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN that, after Karl pledged to make some changes to address growing concerns within the organization about his defensive schemes and practice policies, Divac has decided to back the embattled coach.

ESPN reported Monday night that the Kings had decided to fire Karl during the forthcoming All-Star break. After what one source described as "in-depth discussions" Tuesday in Philadelphia to talk through the problems that have plagued the team during its current 1-8 funk, Divac told Karl that he has management's backing.

"George will remain our coach and we're collectively working through our issues," Divac said in a statement.

The Kings are 21-31and trail Utah by five games for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference.

Sources told ESPN on Monday night that rising dismay, both within the front office and among players, with Karl's defensive schemes, practice policies and general leadership have had a demoralizing effect on the team, which dropped eight of nine games in the wake of a recent five-game winning streak that briefly had Sacramento in the West's eighth playoff spot.

Karl is the Kings' eighth coach since the start of the 2006-07 season, which began a playoff drought that's up to nine seasons and counting.

Sources told ESPN on Monday that Vivek Ranadive, who took ownership of the Kings in May 2013, left the decision on whether to fire or retain Karl with Divac. The owner has twice bucked NBA convention by hiring a coach -- first Mike Malone, then Karl -- before hiring his GM.

Divac wasn't installed as the Kings' lead decision-maker until after Karl was hired in February 2015. He replaced Pete D'Alessandro as Kings GM after Malone was ousted in December 2014.

Karl has an estimated $10 million in guaranteed money left on his original four-year, $15 million contract with the Kings. He nearly lost his job in November after a much-publicized blowup with center DeMarcus Cousins, but one source insisted Monday that the November dispute was "the result of frustration over a lack of coaching."

USA Today reported Tuesday afternoon that some of Ranadive's minority partners, because of the significant amount money still owed Karl, would also likely have a say in whether Karl stays or goes.

Related Video