Playoff-starved Kings to fire George Karl after season finale

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Sacramento Kings are planning to fire coach George Karl on Thursday, sources confirmed to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The Sacramento Bee first reported that Karl will be fired one day after the Kings' season finale against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

"This year has been crazy, but it's always been rewarding," Karl, who would not take questions regarding his future, told reporters in Houston. "That's what coaching is. You never know what hand you're going to be dealt, even in good times when you're winning more than what you did last year. You still have nightmares. You still have headaches. You still have ego problems. You still have attitude problems.

"The whole thing about it is solving them and moving on, and this team has never given up and has fought in a pretty impressive way through a lot of turmoil."

ESPN's Marc Stein reported in early February that the Kings decided against firing Karl after the coach and general manager Vlade Divac had a sit-down meeting in which Karl pledged to make some changes to addressgrowing concerns within the organization about his defensive schemes and practice policies.

Karl also nearly lost his job in November after a public dispute with center DeMarcus Cousins.

NBA coaching sources tell Stein that Kevin McHale, Mark Jackson and Vinny Del Negro are among the names Sacramento is considering for its coaching job. The Kings, sources told Stein, also have strong interest in Tom Thibodeau and Scotty Brooks but concede competition for those two will be fierce.

Heading into the finale, the Kings are 33-48 and will miss the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season despite expectations from owner Vivek Ranadive to end that drought. The team will be moving into a new arena next season.

The Kings rank in the NBA's top 10 in shooting percentage and 3-point field goal percentage, but they rank in the bottom 10 defensive in those same categories.

"In the same sense, it's moving in a good direction right now," Karl said. "It's the most wins [33] they've had in eight years. It's an offensive team that's very close to being a very good offensive basketball team. It's a defensive team that's better than people think it is. It does need some adjustments but can be adjusted very easily and I think very quickly in the summer.

"I think we've had a good year."

The Kings' next coach will be their ninth since 2006-07, the most in the league in that span.

The 64-year-old Karl, who will receive the remaining $6.5 million guaranteed from his four-year contract with the Kings, was hired during the 2015 All-Star break to replace then-interim coach Tyrone Corbin. That move came before Divac was installed as the Kings' lead decision-maker.

The Kings are Karl's sixth NBA coaching job after previous stints in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee and Denver. The 2013 NBA Coach of the Year ranks fifth on the NBA's all-time coaching wins list -- trailing only Don Nelson (1,335), Lenny Wilkens (1,332), Jerry Sloan (1,221) and Pat Riley (1,210) -- with a career record of 1,175-823 entering Wednesday's game. He also has a career playoff record of 80-105.

ESPN Staff Writer Calvin Watkins contributed to this report.

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