Luke Walton has bobbed and weaved past trouble in recent years, but it may not be long before he finally gets caught with a punch in the mouth.
Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday that the job of the Sacramento Kings head coach will likely be in peril if the team’s slide continues. The report adds that Walton survived hot seat rumors last season based on his approval rating in the locker room and the partnership he created with general manager Monty McNair. However, Walton will not get the same leeway from the Kings this season.
The 41-year-old Walton is in his third season as head coach of the Kings. He has gone 67-90 (.427) with zero playoff appearances. This season, the Kings started out 5-4 but have since lost their last four straight games.
Walton has a decent enough roster led by star guard De’Aaron Fox. A solid blend of young players like Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell as well as veterans like Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield round out the team. Though Walton has received at least one strong endorsement to stay, the Kings’ continued mediocrity under his leadership may be too glaring to ignore.
Photo: Mar 5, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton reacts to a call during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Cunningham’s tweet says it was on Sunday, but the game in question was on Monday. Bagley received a “DNP – Coach’s Decision” in the boxscore. But it sounds more like it was a “DNP – Player’s Decision.”
“Marvin and I are constantly in communication,” Walton said about the situation on Wednesday. “He and everyone else knows, we need everyone this year, and everyone has to be ready.”
Walton was pressed and declined to go further into the matter.
“Anything that happens within our group, that’s between our group,” Walton said.
Bagley has only played in one game this season. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Bagley has made it clear over the last several months that he wants out of Sacramento. His representation complained in October about him not being in Walton’s rotation.
Former Sacramento Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear, who was fired last year after telling DeMarcus Cousins that “all lives matter,” is now suing the parent company of KHTK-AM 1140, which serves as the radio home of the Kings.
Napear is seeking in excess of “$75,000 in damages for wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation,” reports The Sacramento Bee.
“Over the course of a 26-year broadcasting career (on KHTK) Grant Napear became a prominent member of the media industry,” says the complaint filed by the Ruggles Law Firm of Fair Oaks in a document filed in the Eastern District of California.
“In 2017, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded Napear his second Emmy Award for his broadcasting of Sacramento Kings games. … Napear alleges he was terminated because he is a Caucasian man who published a phrase on social media that (Bonneville International) contends violated the company’s ad hoc (and unpublished) policy supporting Black Lives Matter.”
The tweet in question came amid tense protests and demonstrations in Sacramento following the police-involved death of George Floyd.
Cousins, who had a history with Napear, tweeted the announcer and asked his thoughts on “Black Live Matter,” a social movement that aims to call attention to perceived police brutality against the African American community. Napear responded with a tweet that included the phrase, “all lives matter,” which some view as the antithesis to “Black Lives Matter.”
Hey!!!! How are you? Thought you forgot about me. Haven't heard from you in years. ALL LIVES MATTER…EVERY SINGLE ONE!!! https://t.co/DfzKl3w0jm
If it came across as dumb I apologize. That was not my intent. That's how I was raised. It has been engrained in me since I can remember. I've been doing more listening than talking the past few days. I believe the past few days will change this country for the better! https://t.co/Gsh84BPBEk
At the time of his firing, Napear told The Sacramento Bee that he was unaware the phrase “all lives matter” was sometimes used as an anti-BLM rallying cry. He insists he meant it in the literal context.
Napear’s lawyer, Matthew J. Ruggles, is seeking a jury trial in federal court.
Ben Simmons may have a team on his wish list that is not exactly a hot-ticket destination.
The Athletic’s David Aldridge reported this week that the Philadelphia 76ers star would have “no problem” going to the Sacramento Kings in a trade. Aldridge notes that Simmons’ desire to get of Philadelphia is that strong.
The three-time All-Star Simmons, who continues to hold out in anticipation of a move, is a far better caliber player than the Kings are usually able to roster short of the draft. He would immediately become their biggest trade acquisition since Ron Artest in 2006 or even Mike Bibby back in 2001.
Nobody will argue with the placement of Tatum, Mitchell, and Adebayo, all of whom have had a multitude of success in both the regular season and the playoffs. But Collins is the clear No. 2 in Atlanta to Trae Young and struggles to create his own offense consistently. Meanwhile, the slight advantage that Ball has over Fox defensively is nowhere near enough to counterbalance the huge gulf in offensive ability between the two. Fox averaged 25.2 points per game last season, stratospheres above Ball’s 14.6.
The 23-year-old Fox was drafted No. 5 overall in 2017, so the list actually downgraded him somehow. Add that to his longstanding rivalry with Ball, and you can see why the Kings felt compelled to jump to Fox’s defense.
Shaquille O’Neal will have to sell his minority ownership share of the Sacramento Kings, according to a report.
Shaq is a brand ambassador for Wynn Bet, which is a gambling company. Due to his relationship with Wynn, he cannot have an ownership stake in an NBA team and will have to sell his position in the Kings.
NEWS: Shaq has been named a brand ambassador for @WynnBET and will be the face of advertising campaigns across TV, digital, and print.
To comply with NBA rules, Shaq will have to sell his minority stake in the Sacramento Kings.
It’s unclear whether Shaq has initiated a sale or sold his stake in the team. The 49-year-old former center became a minority owner of the Kings in 2013. The Hall of Famer concluded his playing career in 2011.
According to one report, Shaq purchased a 1 percent stake in the Kings in 2013. He reportedly netted $6 million through his investment in the team.
Current majority owner Vivek Ranadive purchased a 65 percent share of the team in 2013 for $348 million. That means Shaq’s initial investment was around $5.35 million. His investment must have risen to over $11 million in value over his eight-year ownership term.
O’Neal is known for his endorsement deals and businesses away from the court. He has remained a popular figure since retiring and continues to work as an analyst for TNT. Maybe he keeps working so hard because he wants to keep up with current NBA salaries.
A Ben Simmons trade still does not appear imminent, but the Philadelphia 76ers guard has been attracting interest from at least five teams.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Cavaliers, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Raptors have all showed interest in Simmons. Notably, these teams are all interested in Simmons as a playmaking forward, not as a guard.
The Sixers are said to have not made any significant traction on a Simmons deal, as no interested team has been willing to part with the sort of All-Star caliber player the team wants as part of any trade. However, executives around the league overwhelmingly believe Simmons will be dealt prior to the start of next season.
Philadelphia has made its asking price clear for Simmons, and they’re not compromising so far. They don’t have any real need to. The 25-year-old is still an elite defender, and a creative team could have plenty of use for him despite his flawed offense.
“That just came from frustration,” Bagley said, per Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “I wouldn’t even say frustration, just that built-up fire. I think I did it after watching Trae [Young] go for 50 in the playoffs and they’re winning. As a competitor, that just makes me want to get to that and I need to be there. I want to be there bad. I think, doing that, it was just one of those things where the competitor came out in me, like I’ve got to be there. I’ve got to do whatever I’ve got to do to be in this position.
“For me, personally, my personal goals and where I’m trying to get to in my career, I’ve got to make it happen,” Bagley added. “I’ve got to do everything I’ve got to do to make it happen. I think liking that tweet, that’s where that came from and it is what it is. People [are] going to take it and run with it. It is what it is. I did it. It’s my Twitter. I can like and do whatever I want on my account. I’m not hurting nobody. I’m not harming nobody. But you already know how the fans take stuff and want to run with something.”
The 22-year-old Bagley has failed to meet expectations since being drafted by the Kings with the No. 2 overall pick in 2018, in large part due to injury. Meanwhile, three other players from the top of that draft, Young, Deandre Ayton, and Luka Doncic, have already ascended to superstardom.
It’s been 15 years since the Kings made the postseason. They were a really strong team before that with Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson, Mike Bibby and some of their other top players. But they have just failed to rebuild since then.
They took a step forward a few seasons ago when they went 39-43, but they fired Dave Joerger. They have gone backwards since then with consecutive 31-41 seasons. The Kings need to turn things around finally. But Barkley is justified for not having faith in them to do so.
The Kings have gone 31-41 in consecutive seasons under Walton. That’s below where they expect to be, but sadly the team’s second-highest winning percentage since 2009.
Walton will likely need to show improvement next season otherwise his job status could become in jeopardy. Walton has completed two seasons as head coach of the Kings, which followed three lackluster seasons as the Lakers’ head coach.