By Josh Dubow | The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO Ca. (AP) – The Sacramento Kings fired coach Luke Walton on Sunday after getting off to a disappointing start in his third season in charge.
Walton was informed of the decision a day after a 123-105 home loss to Utah that dropped the Kings to 6-11 on the season after their seventh loss in eight games.
“We all know all of us have to be better, especially over the last two weeks,” general manager Monte McNair said. “We’re not meeting expectations. That’s not just on Luke. That’s on me, the rest of our coaches and players. Everyone acknowledges that.”
Walton had a 68-93 record in two-plus seasons as coach, failing to get Sacramento back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
ESPN first reported the firing.
Associate coach Alvin Gentry takes over on an interim basis. Gentry most recently served as head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (2015-20). He has also had head coaching stops with Miami, Detroit, the Clippers and Phoenix. He has a career record of 510-595.
The Kings ranked near the bottom of the league in several defensive statistics under Walton’s leadership, including scoring and shooting percentage.
Sacramento has tried to build a core around recent lottery picks such as De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell.
“I think we have the talent,” McNair said. “We’ve shown that we can do that. We’re going to get back to that and Alvin will be the guy to lead us there.”
But the biggest mistake came the year before Walton arrived when the Kings took Marvin Bagley III second overall, ahead of both Luka Doncic and Trae Young. Bagley has played in only four games this season as he has fallen out of favor.
The Kings have been at the bottom of the league for years, with their current 15-year stretch without a playoff berth tied for the longest in NBA history with the Clippers franchise, which missed the playoffs from 1977-91 while playing in Buffalo, San Diego and Los Angeles.
Walton posted 31-41 records in each of his first two seasons.
The situation in Sacramento has been so bad that Walton’s .422 winning percentage with the team is the second best of the 18 coaches since the franchise moved to California in 1985.
Rick Adelman had a mark of .633 and led the Kings to the playoffs and a winning record in all eight seasons in charge. Sacramento hasn’t had a winning record in a season with any other coach since leaving Kansas City.