Vance Walberg Fired by Kings: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2016

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 28: Assistant coach Vance Walberg of the Sacramento Kings works with players prior to the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on October 28, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Sacramento Kings fired assistant coach Vance Walberg on Wednesday, according to The Vertical's Chris Mannix. CSN California's James Ham confirmed the move. 

Walberg joined the Kings last February as part of head coach George Karl's staff, but Mannix reported that the team is looking to go in a different direction and hire a "defensive-minded coach" to replace him.

Former Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown is reportedly under consideration for the vacant gig on Sacramento's bench, per Mannix.

General manager Vlade Divac told reporters Karl was opposed to the move but will have the opportunity to hire a replacement.

Karl said he was "disappointed" and "confused" by the decision to fire Walberg and said the blame should rest with him. He added that Walberg was one of the 10 best coaches he'd ever worked with. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee noted that Karl "took the decision hard."

While the Kings have been mired in turmoil all season long, an offense Walberg helped orchestrate has hardly been the team's biggest problem. 

Entering Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Kings are boasting an 11th-ranked offensive rating of 106.1, which qualifies as the second-best mark the team has posted since the 2007-08 season. 

However, Sacramento's front office has been contemplating a shakeup for weeks now, so it can't be considered a total shock that Walberg was canned. 

Following weeks of speculation regarding Karl's future as head coach, the Kings' front office seemingly did a heel turn and announced it would retain the 64-year-old. 

"George is our coach and we're collectively working through our issues," Divac said on Feb. 9, according to's Marc Stein

Based on the way things have played out lately,'s Chris Haynes pointed to Walberg's dismissal as a cover-up for the team's other dysfunctional woes: 

ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin agreed with that notion by tossing out a cross-sport comparison:

While the offense hasn't been an issue for Sacramento, the defense certainly has been. The Kings rank dead last in opponents' scoring average (109.1 points per game), and a defensive rating of 108.1 ranks just 23rd overall. 

But it's not like defensive struggles are anything new to the Kings. The team hasn't posted a defensive rating below 108 since the 2005-06 season, and the team has run through nine different head coaches in that span.

In other words, defensive ineptitude may be stitched into the fabric of the franchise at this point. 

Firing Walberg could open the door for some defensive improvement as the Kings seek to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06, but they could also lose some valuable punch on offense as a result.


Stats courtesy of