Despite the Sacramento Kings playing up to or possibly even above expectations to start the 2014-15 season, the team's ownership has decided a change in leadership is necessary.
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Kings fired head coach Mike Malone and promoted assistant coach Tyrone Corbin to the interim role:
Per Wojnarowski, Corbin will have the chance to keep the job:
Jody Genessy of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City explained how this is the second time Corbin's essentially lucked into a head-coaching gig:
The Kings confirmed the news on Monday, but would not commit to Corbin until the end of the season, via Sam Amick of USA Today:
This news will come as a shock to many. The Kings are currently 11-13, only a half-game behind the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Sacramento has, however, lost three in a row and won only two of its last 10 after starting out 9-5. DeMarcus Cousins was recently suffering from viral meningitis, which contributed to the team's poor run.
Wojnarowski added that ownership is unhappy with where Malone's taken the team, even in Cousins' absence:
Wojnarowski later elaborated on the disagreements that led to Malone's firing, one of which involved Royce Young:
Michael Malone had been pining for a backup point guard, but Sacramento Kings management had a different idea for their coach a year ago: Royce White. Here was the beginning of the end for this doomed partnership, a fight that widened the gulf between them.
White was out of shape, had no interest in playing basketball – which had been clear when the Houston Rockets released him. He had been awful in the Development League, a malingerer, and done nothing to deserve a call-up to the Kings.
'Pretty soon, they're telling [Malone]: Why aren't you putting him in the games?' one organizational source told Yahoo Sports. 'That's when it really started to get bad between him and the guys upstairs.'
Josh Smith was another point of contention, according to Wojnarowski:
The front office-coach relationship became increasingly strained through Las Vegas summer league in July, especially once Ranadive and D'Alessandro made a play to trade for Detroit forward Josh Smith, sources said. The owner told people outside the franchise that, no, his coach didn't want Smith, but Ranadive didn't care. He wanted Smith's talent, and it was on Malone to make it work.
Most of the coaching staff struggled to believe Smith could fit with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, and management differed. Talks with the Pistons shut down quickly, because Stan Van Gundy didn't want to make the proposed deals, sources said.
'The Smith situation caused everyone to take sides: Management against coaches, coaches against management,' a source told Yahoo Sports. 'Things only got worse.'
Team owner Vivek Ranadive, however, seemed to indicate a few days ago that he understands the Kings are a worse team without Cousins in the fold:
As Wojnarowski reported, Malone was operating on borrowed time, and it was only a matter of time before the team moved on.
While Corbin will likely get the opportunity to take over on a more permanent basis, it's unlikely that Sacramento will stick with him long term. He went 112-146 in his four seasons with the Utah Jazz, and the Kings are unlikely to make the playoffs with the Thunder moving up the standings.
This might be a lame-duck campaign as ownership and general manager Pete D'Alessandro work to put their stamp on the team and hire "their guy" as head coach.