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Kings Pulse: The Future of Luke Walton in Sacramento

Could Luke Walton be back in Sacramento next season? We had Jillian Adge on the Podcast to discuss the pros and cons of keeping Walton around, and her favorite potential Head Coach replacements.

As we near the conclusion of the NBA's Regular Season and the Sacramento Kings are still - somehow - within striking distance of the Play-In Tournament, there are whispers that Head Coach Luke Walton may be kept around for another season. The Athletic's Shams Charania and Sam Amick reported last week that Walton may not be on the hot seat due to his strong relationships with his players and General Manager Monte McNair, as well as a Maloofian cost factor - Walton is owed $11.5 million on his contract after this season. De'Aaron Fox also gave Walton his support in a recent interview with SI's Howard Beck, saying that Walton is "someone that I’ve grown to trust" and that "Everybody wants to continue to grow together and keep this group together, and continue to play for a coach that you trust in..."

We had friend to all Kings fans Jill Adge on the podcast to discuss all the pros and cons for keeping Walton for another season. We talked about this late season surge, debated the argument for locker room continuity, and went through Jill's favorite Head Coach options if the Kings decide to move on from Walton. Some of Jill's favorite options include Denver Nuggets' Associate Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr., Philadelphia 76ers' Assistant Coach Sam Cassell, San Antonio Spurs' Assistant Coach Becky Hammon, and Los Angeles Clippers' Assistant Coach Kenny Atkinson.

Personally, I see few pros and many cons to keeping Walton around - any coach who suffers more than one nine-game losing streak shouldn't be kept around, in my book. But I do know that we, as fans with no access or insight to the locker room this season, don't see how the team is supporting Walton or are hoping for another season with him. It's also fair to say that this team could have fully quit on Walton many times this season, and yet they're still playing tough and mostly together on a nightly basis.

But if Monte McNair does feel that Walton should be kept for another season, he better be right on this gamble. If the Kings flounder around .500 after another season with Walton, it may not just be Walton whose time in Sacramento could be cut short.

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May 13, 2021 10:54 am

Had a listen yesterday. Jill had some really good candidates as replacements for Walton, and backed up each of them with solid reasoning and detail.

There is a chance, but it rides entirely on the premise that Luke Walton becomes a former head coach for the rest of his life.

May 13, 2021 11:41 am

Thanks for doing these podcasts.

I don’t give a shit if Fox or the players trust or like Walton. Who cares. A perennial losing team likes its coach? Fuck that.

If he sticks around I believe it’s a Vivek decision. Either that or McNair is an idiot too, which I don’t think he is.

If Luke sticks I’m probably done w the Kings until or unless Vivek fucks off.

May 13, 2021 1:37 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

I don’t give a shit if Fox or the players trust or like Walton. Who cares. A perennial losing team likes its coach? Fuck that.

Agreed, considering (apparently) the reason Joerger was fired was because there wasn’t a love connection with his roster.

May 13, 2021 11:48 am

This whole thing has been rattling around in my head for a while. As I’ve said previously, I’m pretty agnostic about Walton’s job status going into next season. I can see the obvious Pros for replacing him, but I also think a lot of people are downplaying the obvious Cons. Here’s how I see it:

Objective Pros for new coach:

  • Accused of sexual misconduct
  • The team has the worst defense in the NBA (by a wide margin)
  • Walton has been a head coach for 5 season, and has yet to have a winning season.
  • The team had two 9 game losing streaks this season
  • The WIN% is lower in the last two seasons than the season prior to Luke’s arrival
  • Buddy Hield has regressed in the two seasons under Walton

Objective Cons for new coach:

  • If the season ended today, Luke Walton’s offense would finish in the top 10 in ORtg. The last time a Kings team finished in the top 10 was in 2005.
  • They have the #1 transition offense in the NBA
  • The Kings went 10-5 after their first 9 game losing streak, and are currently 9-4 following their second 9 game losing streak
  • There have been no reports that he has lost the locker room
  • Fox has gone on the record advocating for keeping Walton
  • The Kings will finish with more wins than they were projected to win prior to the season.

Subjective Pros for new coach:

  • Better coaches than Walton will be available this offseason
  • This team may do better with a coach that shows a bit more fire, and holds them accountable
  • May be an opportunity for a fresh start with Bagley going into his contract year
  • McNair should have the ability to hire his own coach
  • The win total may be a bit of a mirage based on the actual +/-
  • It doesn’t appear as though Walton can really make the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Subjective Cons for a new coach:

  • It at least appears as though Walton’s developmental staff is above average. That staff will most likely be dismissed if Walton is fired.
  • Walton seems to work well with McNair.
  • The Kings will be on the hook for $11 million left on Walton’s contract. That may limit how much they’re willing/able to pay for a new coach
  • During the GM search, blue chip GM’s bowed out, in part, due to not the Kings not meeting their salary requirement in addition to their concern about working with Vivek. That same scenario could play out during the coaching search
  • The Kings are notorious for not attracting blue chip coaches, and nothing about this roster in it’s current form makes the job more attractive than any other job that will be available
  • The talent level next season should theoretically be higher than it is now. Typically, coaches prefer to take over a team that needs help making the leap versus a team in the middle of a rebuild.
  • There is something to say about continuity. It can help with player development. The coaching community typically values job opportunities with team’s that will give them a fair chance to succeed.
  • I personally have not heard a convincing argument for why the Kings need to urgently make a coaching change
  • The Walton discourse is pretty annoying. It would be nice to not have to constantly hear how every problem is the coach’s fault for a little while

Anyways, that’s it. I think I’d be more comfortable with a change if McNair goes into it with a short list of coaches he knows will take the job. If the Kings go into the search not knowing who is actually willing to take the job, then I think I might prefer the status quo.

Also, I don’t know if this is possible, but I’d be okay if McNair waited to make the decision until after the draft lotto. If the Kings jumped into the top 5, then that would probably make the Kings job more attractive.

May 13, 2021 2:36 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

I really appreciate the thought you put into both sides of this

May 13, 2021 2:38 pm
Reply to  Greg

Nice job with the pros and cons. But what will The Meddler do?comment image

May 13, 2021 3:23 pm
Reply to  Greg

You’re welcome. It was one of those things that was stuck in my head, and I needed to get it out.

May 13, 2021 12:31 pm

Fox’s comment on Walton files under the “what do you expect him to say” category.

how does he look saying Walton is a weak coach not performing when asked by the media? Like a bad organization member

May 13, 2021 2:38 pm

I was a day late and a dollar short on the “how to fix the Kings” thread, but the idea of WHO replaces Walton (similar to WHO or WHAT we trade MB3 and Buddy for) was something I wanted to talk about. it wasn’t addressed a ton in most of the posts on that thread.

I think the short list of names for me would include Mike Budenholzer (if let go), Jerry Stackhouse, David Vanterpool, Charles Lee and to a lesser extent David Adleman or Becky Hammon (though I know them more by name than what they’re excelling at).

I agree with Greg. If Luke can’t be replaced by a sure-fire, going to come to SAC if offered, defensive guru who will keep the pace and player development up, I’m not convinced he HAS to go this year. I’ll be less convinced of it if we sneak into the playoffs (BEAT LA) and more convinced of it if we land a high lottery pick because it might be easier to pull someone else. But, despite my complaints about Walton, I’m not going to complain if he goes or stays at this point.

May 13, 2021 2:39 pm
Reply to  scottymusprime

Whoops, not Greg, but Bratz.

May 13, 2021 3:25 pm
Reply to  scottymusprime

comment image

May 13, 2021 3:25 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

lol I didn’t see the donate now part when I copied the link!

May 13, 2021 5:53 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Always trolling for that sweet sweet TKH patreon skrilla.

May 13, 2021 3:25 pm

Interesting candidates out there. Good podcast.

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