The Sacramento Kings have fired coach Luke Walton, a source confirmed to The Athletic on Sunday, 17 games into his third season with the team. ESPN first reported the news.
The struggling Kings have missed the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons, which is tied for the longest streak in NBA history. They are off to a 6-11 start this season after losing seven of their last eight. The Athletic reported this week that Walton was on the hot seat and would not be given the same leeway as last season.
Walton’s 68-93 record with the Kings actually makes him the second-winningest coach in Sacramento history. Since moving to California’s state capitol in 1985, the Kings have managed only eight winning seasons, all under Hall of Fame coach Rick Adelman.
Walton’s tenure was in peril after his first season, when general manager Vlade Divac was replaced by Monte McNair after the team’s poor showing in the NBA bubble in 2020 kept the franchise out of the playoffs. McNair and Walton, however, forged a good working relationship in 2020-21. The team showed signs of improvement, most notably guard De’Aaron Fox, but also had two nine-game losing streaks and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament.
Change is nothing new in Sacramento. Since Vivek Ranadivé became majority owner in 2013, the team is now on its sixth coach. Sacramento has also had three general managers over that time. The Kings have also had many misses in the NBA Draft and in free agency, which have added to their woes. The most notable draft miss was in 2018, when the team passed on Luka Doncic to select Marvin Bagley III, who is not in the rotation and has been slowed by injuries.
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