By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Alvin Gentry officially joined the carousel of head coaches for the Sacramento Kings when the team took on the Philadelphia 76ers at Golden 1 Center.
Replacing Luke Walton — who was relieved of his duties after the Kings lost 123-105 to the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 20 at G1C — and remodeling a team after the head coach had been fired, is Gentry’s area of expertise.
“All situations are different but obviously it’s something I’ve gone through with other franchises,” Gentry said when he met with the media before the 76ers game. “It’s the same thing … a change in coaching. Basically, there’s not a whole lot that is going to change from the standpoint of what we are trying to accomplish and what we are trying to do. That’s getting the players to perform at a higher level.”
Gentry brings more than 35 years of experience to the Sacramento bench. This is his sixth head coaching position. Prior to the Kings, Gentry most recently served as head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (2015-20), where he guided the team to 48 wins during the 2018-19 regular season — the third-most in team history — and a trip to the NBA Playoffs.
The Pelicans ended up advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals for only the second time in franchise history. Gentry also has head coaching stops with the Miami Heat (1995), Detroit Pistons (1997-2000), Los Angeles Clippers (2000-2003), and Phoenix Suns (2008-2013). In 1,105 games, Gentry has gone 510-595 (.462).
Prior to New Orleans, Gentry was the Associate Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors, helping lead the team to the 2015 NBA Championship.
He was hired as an associate head coach by the Kings in October 2020. After a 5-5 start this season, Walton saw the Kings lose six of their next seven games, which triggered General Manager Monte McNair to pull the plug on Walton.
Gentry said Walton was not at all negative about the transition and that the former coach is a “dear friend of mine and will always be a good friend of mine.”
“There was nothing negative about it nor did he say anything about it,” Gentry said of Walton’s response to the firing.
Walton was named head coach of the Kings in April 2019 after spending three years as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. During his time with the Kings, he coached the team to a record of 68-93 (.422).
Gentry does have the interim tag attached to his duties. Therefore, he has 65 games to prove he should be here long after the 2021-2022 season. He is the 11th head coach the Kings have hired in the last 15 years.
Doc Rivers, the head coach of the 76ers, said he hated to see Walton lose his job but feels the Kings are in safe hands with Gentry.
“I hate when anybody loses their job in the NBA. Luke had a tough job,” Rivers said. “But Alvin is a terrific coach. He really is. He has a great basketball mind and he’s been around this type of transition to take over teams. But that’s also why teams want him. He is a guy that has the ability to fix things.”