Report: Kings, on verge of hiring George Karl, inform Tyrone Corbin he’s likely finished tomorrow


The Kings’ steady march toward hiring George Karl continues.

Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Although the Kings have yet to formally announce a done deal with Karl, sources told on Tuesday that the organization is already operating under the premise that Karl will take over the team after the All-Star break.

The parties, sources said, were still working Tuesday on the finer deal points of an expected four-year contract that will formally establish Karl, an ESPN analyst, as Tyrone Corbin’s successor and Sacramento’s third coach of the season starting next week.

The sides are said to be still finalizing contract terms, such as the total worth of the financial package and whether the last year of the proposed four-year deal will be a team option or fully guaranteed. But sources said the delay in publicly confirming Karl as the Kings’ new coach is at least partly due to the club’s determination to help Corbin get through Sacramento’s last two games before the break with no further distractions beyond what he’s already faced over the past few days since Sacramento’s interest in Karl became public.

Sources say Corbin was informed Monday by team officials that the Kings’ games Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago and Milwaukee would likely be his last two in charge.

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Whenever Karl gets hired, he’ll face a DeMarcus Cousins who hasn’t been pleased with the way this coaching search has unfolded so publicly. And here’s yet another leak.

That isn’t necessarily Karl’s fault, but Cousins is under no obligation to assign blame rationally. So, there’s Karl’s first assignment: Get on the same page as the franchise player.

If he can do that, I like Karl’s chances of getting the most from this team.

DeMarcus Cousins denies any involvement, push on Kings’ coaching search


DeMarcus Cousins is sticking up for himself — and from what I’ve heard out of Sacramento, he’s in the right.

Remember, right now Tyrone Corbin is coaching the Sacramento Kings after they fired Mike Malone out of the blue mid-season. When Orlando fired its coach Jacque Vaughn a couple weeks ago, suddenly the leisurely pace of talks between Sacramento and their preferred candidate George Karl picked up steam — the Kings didn’t want the Magic to poach their guy.

But when those talks stalled out a little was reported to be because Cousins and his camp pushed back. Cousins has now come out and denied that, through a statement released by his agents to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

“I wasn’t consulted when the decision was made to fire Mike Malone and I’m not being consulted now. I just hope they make a decision soon and stick with it. George Karl is an experienced, proven coach and if that is who they chose to coach this team, I will support it. I do not like all these discussions in the media while we have a coach in place. It is a distraction and not fair to Coach Corbin and this team.”

I think the second sentence is the key here — what I heard was not that Cousins didn’t trust Karl so much as he wanted to know why the style of play changed every couple years. Which is an incredibly valid question.

This hiring is fully on GM Pete D’Alessandro — and it could be a superb one. The question for D’Alessandro is whether he survives this summer and sticks around to provide the players for Karl’s system.

No doubt Karl can coach (he was Coach of the Year in Denver and won 57 games when they fired him), and Cousins could thrive in his system if the All-Star center fully buys in. He says he’s on board. How long will Vivek Ranadivé be? Because right now Cousins seems more mature than the organization.

Anthony Davis questionable for All-Star game due to shoulder injury


The All-Star game is less than a week away, and we’re already seeing multiple players being ruled out due to sustaining recent injuries.

Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin are both out for the West, Dwyane Wade is out for the East, and Carmelo Anthony is 50-50, at best.

Now, another of the league’s best players may be forced to skip Sunday’s All-Star game if he’s not ready to go in time for his team’s next home game on Wednesday against the Pacers.

From Marc Stein of

New Orleans Pelicans star forward Anthony Davis’ availability for this weekend’s All-Star Game will likely depend on whether he can play in New Orleans’ home game Wednesday against Indiana, according to league sources.

Sources told that Davis, who suffered a shoulder sprain Saturday night after a hard fall against Chicago, remains a doubt for the Pelicans’ game against Indiana as he continues to undergo treatment.

The Pelicans have officially listed Davis as questionable for Wednesday night’s game.

If Davis can’t go, it opens up yet another injury replacement spot on the roster; DeMarcus Cousins got Kobe’s, and Damian Lillard got Griffin’s.

We’re probably looking at Zach Randolph or Mike Conley from the Grizzlies if Davis ultimately needs replacing. Memphis has been the second best team in the West all season long, and currently is only represented at All-Star weekend by Marc Gasol, who was voted in as a starter.

Report: Kings very near four-year deal to hire George Karl as coach


In the end, it came down to what General Manager Pete D’Alessandro wanted. And he all along wanted George Karl as the Kings’ coach

There were reports that it was in the owner’s court, but Vivek Ranadive and D’Alessandro met on Sunday, and the owner put the ball in D’Alessandro’s court, reported Sam Amick of USA Today. If the GM wanted Karl, go hire him.

There were reports that DeMarcus Cousins’ camp was pushing back against a Karl hiring. His people denied that – what they wanted to know was why every couple years the plan in Sacramento just radically changes. Which is a valid question. Either way were Ranadive and D’Alessandro really going to give their star player veto power?

In the end, it looks like a deal is going to get done to make Karl the next coach of the Kings, reports Adrain Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Sacramento Kings and George Karl are progressing on a four-year contract worth between $4 million to $5 million a season to become coach of the Sacramento Kings, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Tyrone Corbin will coach the final two Kings’ games before the All-Star break Tuesday at Chicago and Wednesday at Milwaukee, and – barring an unforeseen snag – Karl will take over as head coach afterward, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The official announcement may be a ways off. Karl is a North Carolina grad who next will be attending Dean Smith’s funeral.

The Kings fired coach Mike Malone midway through the season — a move not popular with Cousins or others in the locker room — and the team has gone 7-19 since.

The reported reason for the firing was Ranadive wanted a more up-tempo team than the defense-first Malone gave him. If so, Karl is a great hire. He wants an up-tempo, open system — remember the last team Karl coached won 57 games in Denver with Ty Lawson at the helm of a free-wheeling offense.

Cousins has the game to blossom in a version of that system.

The next question might be, will Ranadive keep D’Alessandro on as GM, to buy the groceries for his new chef? That question is not going to be answered until the season ends, but it’s something to watch.

PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Should it be a big-three with Memphis in mix now?


For the past few weeks it has been Atlanta, Golden State then everyone else in the NBA. Should Memphis be included in that mix? They are playing like it, and it’s not like they need to switch styles to play playoff-style basketball come the postseason — they grit and grind for 82 games before that. The bottom of the rankings see the two biggest markets in the league.

source:  1. Hawks (42-10, Last Week No. 1). They dropped two games last week to quality teams — New Orleans and Memphis — but their body of work over the previous five weeks keeps them in the top spot for now. The Hawks remain 8-2 against the West’s playoff teams. Interesting little test for Jeff Teague this week against the suddenly hot Timberwolves and Ricky Rubio.

source:  2. Grizzlies (38-13, LW 2). They have won 13-of-15 and beat the Hawks. Why don’t they move up to the top spot? That loss to Minnesota hurt their cause in my book (plus the Hawks were just too hot for too long to drop with one average week). That said, right now I think there is a big three, with Memphis in the mix with Atlanta and Golden State. I’m not a huge fan of bringing Tony Allen off the bench, I get the need for offense but it’s not working yet. Allen was fantastic against Kyle Korver, however.

source:  3. Warriors (40-9, LW 3). They have the top ranked offense and the top ranked defense in the NBA in terms of points per possession (they moved past the Clippers in offense this week). There is a legitimate chance they finish the season that way (if they stay healthy). If that doesn’t make you a legit title contender, nothing will.

source:  4. Cavaliers (31-21 LW 7). They have won 13 of 14 and are the second best team in the East but here is why I’m hesitant to crown them as best of the East — they have a defensive rating of 101.3 (points allowed per 100 possessions)in their last five games, that’s 13th in the league in that stretch. In their last 15 games it’s 102.8, 15th in the league. The defense has improved and with that offense it wins regular season games, but the big tests remain ahead.

source:  5. Spurs (32-19, LW 5). The Spurs started their annual “rodeo road trip” on Sunday in Toronto with a loss they will be riding the rails (or, in this case, a cushy charter plane) for eight more games before returning to the Lone Star state. Some Spurs teams have come together on this trip, we’ll see if this one can start to return to its form of last season in this stretch.

source:  5. Rockets (35-16, LW 6). Give them credit, they are 5-2 without Howard in this most recent stretch including wins over Dallas and Chicago. James Harden has been MVP worthy, but it’s Donatas Motiejunas stepping up that really keeps them afloat.

source:  7. Mavericks (35-18, LW 8). They have won four of five since Rajon Rondo went down and their defense has still been pretty good. Portland had no defensive answer for Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch Saturday, but then who does?

source:  8. Trail Blazers (34-17. Last Week No. 10). They had lost seven in a row on the road to teams that would make the playoffs in the West before Sunday, when they picked up a quality road win in Houston. Better late than never to put Damian Lillard on the All-Star Team in the West, even if it took an injury to make it a reality.

source:  9. Raptors (35-17, LW 11). Back-to-back wins over the Clippers and Spurs make it eight wins out of 10 for our Canadian friends, who have found their stride again. Hopefully Kyle Lowry enjoys his All-Star turn in New York this week, he earned it.

source:  10. Clippers (33-19, LW 4). The Clippers have lost four in a row for the first time in the Doc Rivers era, and things are about to get worse. This team is really just six players deep and now are without Blake Griffin for likely at least a few weeks, although J.J. Redick may be back before All-Star Game. Their upcoming schedule is brutal. They will slip down the West (they are already sixth) and missing the playoffs is not likely but not impossible. They need Spencer Hawes to step up big now.

source:  11. Suns (29-24, LW 9). They have dropped four of their last five games, including a tough-bounce loss to Sacramento on Sunday. Oklahoma City and New Orleans haven’t taken full advantage yet, but the Suns look like a team that could lose their playoff grip. If they can get through February they have a very home-heavy March where they will pad that record.

source:  12. Bulls (31-21, LW 12). In sticking up for his team’s defense of late, nice to see Tom Thibodeau use points per possession stats. And he’s right in last five games they are sixth in the league on that end of the floor. They are also 2-3. The Bulls have played well in big games recently (beating San Antonio and Golden State), Cleveland on Thursday is a going to be another good test.

source:  13. Pelicans (27-24, LW 14). Anthony Davis is out for a handful of games with a sprained shoulder, but that fall looked like it could have been a lot worse. As you saw against the Bulls Saturday, no team is more reliant on their star to make it all work than the Pelicans are with Davis. Isn’t that the sign of an MVP?

source:  14. Thunder (26-25, LW 15). They split the home-and-home with the Pelicans but then crushed the Griffin-less Clippers on Sunday. Both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will be in New York for the All-Star Game this week, and both deserve to be there. If I were Steve Kerr, I might even start Durant in Griffin’s place.

source:  15 Wizards (32-20, LW 13). They snapped a five-game losing streak on Saturday (thank you Nets). You can say this spot is too low for a team 12 games above .500, but who above them do you think they could beat in a seven-game playoff series? Right now, none of them. Against teams above .500 the Wizards are just 10-15. Might they be one-and-done in the playoffs?

source:  16. Bucks (28-23, LW 16). Giannis Antetokounmpo is shooting 61 percent over his last seven games and has four double-doubles in that stretch — that earned him NBA Player of the week honors. The first of many, I think.

source:  17. Hornets (22-29, LW 17). Tough losses to the Sixers and Pacers last week, those are the kinds of games they need to win if they plan to hold on to a playoff spot (even in the East). The Hornets are just half a game ahead of nine-seed Brooklyn, 2.5 up on 10 seed Detroit, which makes the game against the Pistons this week huge.

source:  18. Pistons (20-31, LW 20). If one team is going to sneak past Miami (and Brooklyn) into the eight seed out West, it is Detroit. The Pistons are 2 games back heading into this week. Their defense has fallen off in recent games, they need that back for a key showdown vs. Charlotte Tuesday.

source:  19. Nets (21-29, LW 21).

source:  20. Heat (21-29, LW 18). As good as Hassan Whiteside has been, the point guard play has been that bad. With a handful of decent ones potentially available at the trade deadline Pat Riley has to at least makes some calls and see.

source:  21. Celtics (19-31, LW 23). Their not winning a lot but Brad Stevens small-ball experiment is entertaining (they put up points). They had a little three-game winning streak and in the East that will keep a team’s playoffs hope alive, although they are slim for the Celtics (which is the way Danny Ainge wants it right now).

source:  22. Pacers (20-32, LW 24). They have won three in a row now thanks to George Hill’s game winner Sunday. Hill struggled to fit in working off the ball with Paul George and a healthy Pacers team, but he has looked good when asked to do more for the team of late.

source:  23. Jazz (18-33, LW 19). The Dante Exum as starting point guard experiment has had mixed results so far, but when you’re lottery bound with a young team like the Jazz these are the kinds of experiments you try. Let him learn on the job, see how he develops. Then tell him to pass to Gordon Hayward more.

source:  24. Kings (18-29, LW 25). Thanks to DeMarcus Cousins’ game winner, Sacramento is now 7-19 since firing Mike Malone so they could go up tempo with Tyrone Corbin. If there is a candidate for “GM most likely to be fired this summer” it is Pete D’Alessandro. Whether or not George Karl is hired.

source:  25. Timberwolves (11-40, LW 30). Ricky Rubio is back and suddenly the ball is moving, players are running the break, and the Timberwolves have won three in a row. It’s going to be a pretty quiet trade deadline again this season, but don’t be shocked if Kevin Martin or Thaddeus Young are the biggest names on the move. Flip Saunders wants to deal.

source:  26. Nuggets (19-32, LW 22). Losers of five in a row and they are a team in disarray in terms of team building and direction. Either give Brian Shaw a team that fits his style or bring in a coach that likes to run, but pick a direction and stick with it.

source:  27. 76ers (12-40, LW 28). They have won four straight home games. This is the second year in a row they have been held up as the poster child for tanking teams, only to have another team in their own conference be worse (the Bucks last season, the Knicks this season).

source:  28. Magic (16-37, LW 27). They fired Jacque Vaughn but it begs the question: What kind of team are they trying to build in Orlando? Stan Van Gundy said this week there is no such thing as a long-time Magic coach, and that is a big part of the problem. Develop a plan then stick with it.

source:  29. Knicks (10-41, LW 26). What is the under/over on games Carmelo Anthony plays after the All-Star Game before shutting it down and getting surgery? I’d put the line at 2.5, and likely bet the under.

source:  30. Lakers (13-37, LW 29). As we spend the rest of the season watching and deciding if Jordan Clarkson can develop into an NBA rotation guard, here is my big question: What is the Lakers’ long-term plan? Swing for the fences every summer is not really a plan for building a full roster.