Sources: Kings prefer George Karl, not serious about hiring Mark Jackson

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The Sacramento Kings shocked many in the NBA world when they abruptly fired head coach Mike Malone last week. Malone is respected in league circles and most rival scouts, coaches and executives believe he had been doing a good job coaching the team. He was also popular in the Kings’ locker room, particularly with star DeMarcus Cousins.

Almost instantly after the move landscape-changing rumors of the long-term replacement hit the wire seemingly every other day — George Karl, Mark Jackson, even Vinny Del Negro — leaving Tyrone Corbin in a lame duck situation. We reported last week Karl was considered the early front-runner.

Now sources tell PBT that though the team is still very interested in hiring Karl, they are hesitant to pay an expected asking price in the range of $5 million per year or more.

In the meantime they have allowed themselves to be connected to former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, staging a not-so-secret meeting at Sleep Train Arena following Thursday’s nationally televised game that Jackson called for ESPN.

Sources tell PBT that Jackson has “no chance” of being the Kings’ next coach, adding that the meeting was both personal in nature and mutually beneficial for all parties – sending Karl a message at the negotiating table and for Jackson, keeping his name in the news as a future head coaching candidate.

Karl has made it no secret that he would like to coach the Kings, and the team would appear to have a way out of their coaching mess if they can strike a deal.

Hiring Karl can be sold to a frustrated locker room and fan base as an upgrade, albeit a very messy one that’s going to leave a mark if not dealt with soon. It should be no surprise that the Kings’ locker room has grown tired of the ongoing circus surrounding this front office decision, made by Pete D’Allesandro and signed off on by owner Vivek Ranadive and advisor Chris Mullin.

Had Malone been doing a bad job – on or off the court – there wouldn’t be quite the urgency to find a replacement. But with the collective head-scratching going on in the locker room and on both sides of the wall surrounding the royal kingdom, the lack of action on Plan B is going to continue being a distraction. While reports have said Corbin will get to finish out the season, a hiring sooner than that would help stabilize the situation.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.