For those of you keeping tabs, so far the Sacramento Kings coaching search has included at least contact and sometimes interviews with Mark Jackson, Luke Walton, Nate McMillan, Vinny Del Negro, Mike Woodson, Sam Mitchell, Kevin McHale, and Patrick Ewing. And that’s the ones we know about.
Now one more name gets added to the list: David Blatt. From Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN.com that Blatt will become the latest in a string of recent head coaches to interview for the post, with the Kings determined to commission a broad search in their hunt for George Karl’s replacement.
Blatt has also interviewed for the New York Knicks job and is rumored to be still in consideration, although Blatt does not meet Phil Jackson’s requirements of having a relationship with Jackson or wanting to run the triangle.
The top priority for whoever becomes the Kings next coach is to establish a strong relationship with DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s top 10 NBA talent but also a mercurial person. Cousins did not want George Karl to be hired as coach, owner Vivek Ranadive did that anyway (having already let go of Cousins’ favorite Mike Malone), then when Karl talked about “no player being untradable” and pushing that narrative the relationship between coach and star was dead. The team never recovered.
The next coach has to get Cousins on his side. Is Blatt a guy who can do that? In Cleveland, he came in with an “I won a lot in Europe you must respect me” attitude — rather than being humble and trying to earn that respect, ala Steve Kerr in Golden State — and LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers never bought in. Blatt never had that locker room. Can Blatt change? Will he have learned from that mistake?
The Kings are wisely doing a broad and thorough coaching search, so it may be a while before we find out if Vlade Divac and the Sacramento brain trust think Blatt has learned those hard lessons.