Reports: Kings hire Luke Walton to be their next coach

luke walton - le bron

by Charlie O. Mallonee

To no one’s surprise, Sam Amick of reported earlier today that the Sacramento Kings had reached an agreement in principle with Luke Walton to become the next head coach of the team replacing Dave Joerger. Most reporters and analysts were speculating that Vlade Divac wanted Walton even before he parted ways with the Lakers.

There is no reason to doubt Amick’s reports. He has covered the Kings for years and has the respect of the front office. Amick is not a reporter who bites on the first shiny object in the water. If he did not feel there was real credence to the information he received, Amick would not have reported it.

The move also makes sense because the Kings reportedly tried to lure Walton to become their head coach before they hired Dave Joerger. Walton did not become a candidate for the Sacramento job at that time because the Lakers were pursuing him at the same time.

Walton will have Vlade’s trust

Walton and Divac were Lakers teammates in 2004-05 which was Divac’s final year as a player. They know each other well which is important to Divac who seems to very comfortable having an inner circle that is very familiar to him.

That can also be a detriment. One of the roles Walton may be able to play is to urge Divac to open up and expand the Kings front office to bring in more experienced executives to assist him in running the operation.

Because Walton will have an instant credibility factor with Divac, he will probably be included in making personnel decisions where Joerger was never included in that part of the operation. We know that because Joerger made no secret about his lack of involvement in personnel decisions.

Walton also is from the Steve Kerr coaching tree

luke walton

Walton is known for the incredible job he did filling in Steve Kerr when he was out due to medical issues. Walton led Golden State to a 39-4 record until Kerr was able to return to the bench.

Walton got off to a solid start with the Lakers in his first year as head coach, but ran into a firestorm when LeBron James joined the team in his second season the head man. LeBron not only cost Walton his job, but convinced Magic Johnson to bail out as President of Basketball Pperations. James manages to suck the air out of any team that he is a part of as a player, de facto coach, and de facto general manager.

Walton has his work cut out for himself

Walton has some strong returning players in De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley III, and Harry Giles III. Will Harrison Barnes invoke his $25-million option? Should the Kings resign or match offers for Willie Cauley-Stein? Who should the team pursue in free agency?

Sacramento finished nine games out the playoffs this season. It will be no easy task to break into the playoff tournament next season, but Walton will have four years to make this team a success.

Walton will be a different personality


Where Joerger was an introverted, close to the vest personality, Walton will an open, upfront star in front of the cameras. He will be a PR star for the Kings. That will be of help on an on-going basis. It will be something they haven’t had in long. long time. The fans and media will love it.

No chicken dinner for Kings in Vegas as they lose to Lakers 75-69

carter vs lakers
Vince Carter directs traffic in the Kings — Lakers game in Las Vegas Photo USA Today Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The third preseason game of the year for the Kings was a premiere matchup between Pacific Division rivals. The Kings and the Lakers are both very young teams that are trying reestablish themselves as legitimate playoff contenders in the NBA Western Conference.

Frankly, neither of these teams will be playing a game after the end of the regular season in April. That being said — both the Lakers and Kings are going to be much more entertaining to watch in 2017-18 than they were last season with the players they acquired in the draft and in free agency.

The game on Sunday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was not a “beautiful game”, but it was an entertaining game. The Lakers established a big lead in the first quarter and then the Kings fought their way back into the game in the second period.

The Kings actually took the lead in game in third quarter behind 22-9 run but they would not be able to hold on to that lead in final quarter of the game. When the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers had held on to record their first win of the preseason 75-69 over the Kings before a decidedly pro-Laker crowd in “Sin City”.

There were really no losers on Sunday night in Las Vegas

Magic talks to crowd Lakers
Magic Johnson spoke to the fans in Las Vegas before the game on Sunday Photo USA Today Sports

Both the Kings and Lakers donated their proceeds from the game on Sunday night to victims and first-responders of the mass shooting that happened last Sunday in Las Vegas. The donations will go to the MGM Grand Foundation who will administer the distribution of the proceeds.

This was a very nice gesture on the part of both teams.

The Ball vs Fox matchup did not happen again

The summer league rematch between Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox did happen due to an injury reported by Ball. That brought out many comments about Ball not wanting to be embarrassed by Fox the way he was in the UCLA — Kentucky matchup.

On Sunday, it was announced that Ball would not be available due to an ankle problem. Fox would not have been able to play in the second-half due to a lower back bruise suffered in the first-half of the game.

Do not worry. The big face off is going to happen during the regular season and it will be worth the wait.

Neither team had impressive stats in the game


Sacramento shot 25-for-80 (31.2-percent) from the floor. They connected on just 7-of-25 (28.0-percent) for 3-point attempts. Those are not the kind of shooting numbers that will win games in the regular season. Sacramento went 12-for-16 (75.0-percent) from the free throw line. The percentage was fine but the number of attempts was too low.

Sacramento grabbed 37 rebounds (5 offensive). They recorded 15 assists and 12 turnovers which is not an acceptable ratio. The Lakers scored 10 points off the Kings 12 turnovers.


Los Angeles shot 41.4-percent (29-for-70) from the field. The Lakers hit just 6-of-24 (25.0-percent) from beyond the 3-point line. They were 11-for-15 (73.3-percent) from the charity stripe.

The Lakers hauled in 49 rebounds (2 offensive). They recorded 21 assists and 20 turnovers which is not acceptable to any coach. The Kings scored 18 points off the Lakers 20 turnovers.

Team Leaders


Z-bo vs Lakers
Zach Randolph was a team leader for the Kings on Sunday night Photo USA Today Sports

Zach Randolph led the Kings scoring attack with 16 points. Z-Bo was 7-for-15 shooting. Garrett Temple put up 12 points while Vince Carter added nine. Bogdan Bogdanovic, George Hill and Buddy Hield each added seven points in the game.

George Hill was the Kings top rebounder with eight. Kosta Koufos grabbed seven.

The Kings used just 11 players in the rotation on Sunday night.


Kuzma Lakers
Rookie Kuzma was a star for the Lakers on Sunday Photo USA Today Sports

Julius Randle posted a double-double by putting up 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Rookie Kyle Kuzma dropped in 15 points. Many observers feel that Kuzma could be a bigger story than Ball this season but remember this is just the preseason. Brook Lopez scored 12 while Jordan Clarkson added 10 points.

Kuzma also pulled down eight rebounds.

Alex Caruso led the Lakers in assists with four and Kuzma had three.

Interesting stat of the game

When you look at the stats, you know this was not a great field goal shooting game. It really became an “old style” NBA battle in the paint contest. Sacramento scored 24 points in the paint (12-for-28) while the Lakers scored 40 points in the key (20-for-34).

Up next

The Kings (1-2) will be back in action on Monday night in Sacramento when they will host the Portland Trail Blazers (2-1). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.