The Sacramento Kings are in the market for a new head coach — again. After firing Luke Walton on Nov. 21, the Kings are 2–2 under interim head coach Alvin Gentry. There are reports that the coaching search is already centered on a source that has produced two of the franchise’s four head coaches since Vivek Ranadivé purchased a majority stake in the franchise in 2013.
Ranadivé, the former minority shareholder of the Golden State Warriors, is reportedly once again casting a longing eye toward the Bay Area for the next candidate to sit in the chair Gentry is filling now. The first coaching hire Sacramento made with Ranadivé in the governor’s seat was Mike Malone, fired with an 11–13 record in his second season. Walton came later, with a stop in between as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach. He got the gate with Sacramento at 6–11 after consecutive 31–41 campaigns.
Ranadivé desperately wants to mimic the Golden State Warriors’ success
When he bid on the Sacramento Kings in 2013, Ranadivé divested himself of the Golden State Warriors stake he owned. He had been in the ownership group since 2010, meaning he was there for the beginning of the franchise’s rise to dominance. But he missed the championship years while running the Kings further into the ground.
Malone came to Sacramento after two seasons on Mark Jackson’s staff at Golden State. Malone was Jackson’s security blanket when the Warriors hired the first-time coach in 2011, with Golden State making Malone the highest-paid assistant in the league. In 2014, he denied reports of friction with Jackson, per The Associated Press.
In 2019, the Kings fired Dave Joerger after the franchise’s best season since 2005–06, a 39–43 mark. A day later, Walton and the Lakers danced to the “mutual parting of ways” tune. In less than 72 hours, Walton was the head coach in Sacramento.
Walton’s work with the Warriors included a championship in 2015 and a 39–4 run as acting head coach while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery. While Golden State went on to win a record 73 games in 2015-16, it lost in the NBA Finals. Walton moved on to replace Byron Scott in LA.
Even Gentry has a Golden State background. He was Kerr’s top assistant in 2014–15 before taking the head coaching gig for the New Orleans Pelicans. He joined Walton’s staff last season and received a title bump to associate head coach before this season. It’s worth noting Gentry has twice gone from interim to permanent head coach, both with the Detroit Pistons in 1998 and again with the Phoenix Suns in 2009.
The Sacramento Kings are said to be eyeing a pair of Golden State Warriors aides
According to Marc Stein on Substack, Ranadivé’s fascination with the Golden State Warriors has not waned. Reportedly, the owner is looking longingly at a pair of Warriors assistants to be the next head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Both are former NBA head coaches. In eight seasons as a head coach, Mike Brown is 347–216, serving two stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and parts of two seasons with the Lakers. Brown joined Kerr’s staff with the Warriors in 2016. Despite more than 20 years of NBA coaching, Brown is only 51 and took the Fighting LeBrons to the NBA Finals in 2007.
The other rumored candidate is Kenny Atkinson, who jumped to the Warriors after a year on Tyronn Lue’s staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. Atkinson coached the Brooklyn Nets for four seasons, getting the team to the playoffs in 2019 before he was fired in March 2020.
Atkinson has a strong reputation as a player development coach, something he displayed in Brooklyn. He was an assistant with the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks before taking the Nets’ job. He also coached two seasons in France after a 14-year playing career spent mostly in Europe.
The Sacramento Kings haven’t tried to lure anyone from the Golden State front office
While the Sacramento Kings under the ownership of Ranadivé appear to have a fascination with coaches having ties to the Golden State Warriors, the front office has not.
Ranadivé’s first general manager in Sacramento was Pete D’Alessandro, who had been with the Denver Nuggets. His first NBA job was in the front office of the Warriors, but he left for Denver before Ranadivé joined Golden State’s ownership group.
Vlade Divac had no front office experience in the NBA when Ranadivé gave him the keys to the franchise in 2015. The Kings hired Monte McNair from the Houston Rockets in 2020.
McNair hasn’t had a fair chance to put his fingerprints on the job in Sacramento, not that it’s ever stopped Ranadivé from changing directions in the past.
The Golden State Warriors put together a fine organization over the last decade, winning three NBA titles and racing out to the NBA’s best record this season. Under Ranadivé, the Sacramento Kings haven’t come anywhere close to that, though they did almost get to .500 — once. But they still have that 4-on-5 plan of Ranadivé’s to fall back on if things get desperate.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.