OAKLAND — Incoming Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is already making moves to rebuild the fallen franchise.
The Kings have an agreement in place with Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Malone to be their head coach, a person familiar with the decision said Thursday night.
The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, said Malone was Ranadive’s top choice. Ranadive has been a minority owner of the Warriors the past three seasons and is in the final stages of closing a sale with the Maloof family to buy the Kings.
Malone’s hiring officially ends Keith Smart’s tenure. Smart took over the Kings for the fired Paul Westphal in January 2012 and had one year remaining on his contract.
Yahoo Sports, which first reported the agreement, said Malone’s deal is for four years and $9 million, with the fourth year being a team option.
Ranadive had promised to move swiftly in revamping a franchise that has missed the playoffs seven straight years. The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Kings to the TIBCO Software chairman Tuesday, though the actual sale of the team to Ranadive’s group — which will acquire a 65 percent controlling interests at a total franchise valuation of $535 million — still has to close escrow.
The Kings can’t announce any deals until the sale is complete.
Under NBA rules, Ranadive will have to sell his minority stake in the Warriors. He also still has to hire a general manager, a move that typically comes before finding a coach; the contract for president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie ends June 30.
Malone, the son of former NBA coach Brendan Malone, has been an assistant in the league for more than a decade and engineered defensive turnarounds at almost every stop — which includes the Warriors, New Orleans, Cleveland and the New York Knicks. He also was an assistant at Manhattan College, Providence and Oakland University (Rochester, Mich.).
Malone had interviewed for NBA coaching vacancies the past few seasons but never landed a top gig — until now.
He worked under Mark Jackson the past two years with Golden State, which made the playoffs for only the second time since 1994 this season. The Warriors finished 47-35, beat Denver in the first round of the playoffs and were eliminated by eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio in six games.
Malone inherits a talented young roster in Sacramento headlined by volatile center DeMarcus Cousins that has yet to blend — or play defense. The Kings went 28-54 last season, gaining more attention for the franchise’s possible move to Seattle — which NBA owners rejected — than anything positive on the court.
The hiring of Malone hands Smart another difficult setback in his coaching career.
The Warriors, under new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, decided not to extend Smart’s contract after the longtime assistant hastily replaced Don Nelson before the 2010-11 season and led the franchise to a 36-46 record — a 10-game improvement from the previous year. Smart also had a stint as the Cavaliers’ interim head coach for the final 40 games in 2003 after taking over for John Lucas. The Cavs didn’t retain Smart, then drafted LeBron James with the No. 1 overall pick that summer.
Smart, the former Indiana guard best known for hitting “The Shot” against Syracuse to win the 1987 NCAA title, went 48-93 as Sacramento’s coach. He is 93-170 in his coaching career.
By Antonio Gonzalez