Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The Sacramento Kings are hiring Mike Brown as their next head coach after declining to continue on with interim coach Alvin Gentry, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The two sides reportedly agreed to a four-year contract.
Brown has been on the Golden State Warriors’ staff for the past six seasons. Before that, he spent eight years as a head coach across spells with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.
During his first run in Cleveland, the Cavs won 60 games on two occasions and reached the 2007 NBA Finals.
Sacramento fired Luke Walton in November and promoted Gentry, who had been the associate head coach.
Wojnarowski reported at the time there was more to the deal:
While Walton’s ouster was well-earned, the Kings didn’t fare much better under Gentry’s stewardship. They had a 6-11 record (.353) at the time of the coaching change and finished with a 24-41 (.369) mark the rest of the way.
The organization’s playoff drought extended to 16 seasons.
Failing to even qualify for the play-in tournament was a tough pill to swallow given what the Kings pulled off at the trade deadline.
In perhaps the league’s most puzzling midseason move, Sacramento sent Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to the Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday.
Beyond looking like a foundational piece for the Kings—he averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 assists through 109 games—Haliburton fully embraced his surroundings. He wrote for The Players’ Tribune how he was left in tears upon first being told of the trade.
Sabonis is a good offensive fit next to De’Aaron Fox and wound up putting up 18.9 points and 12.3 rebounds per game with Sacramento.
But trading Haliburton for an All-Star center who’s under contract for two more years was a clear sign of the front office’s desire to take a clear step forward now. As The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie argued, it felt like a case of misplaced priorities:
“At the end of the day, big picture, you’re limiting the window to two years beyond this one, where you’re already not contending for a title as it is and probably still have under a 50 percent chance to make the Play -In given that you’re still two games out with two teams ahead of you in the standings.You’re also decreasing your odds for getting a top-four draft pick because you’ll see some marginal improvement that pushes you toward the Play -In but maybe not enough to actually make it.”
Failing to even muster a top-10 finish was a massive disappointment and will add further ammunition to those who questioned the trade in the first place.
Kellan Olson @KellanOlson
I feel like a lot of people are missing the point beyond the players that Sabonis is a UFA in 2024 and Haliburton still has TWO years left on his rookie deal before he’s an RFA. That’s what the baseball folks refer to as having a guy under team control. Insane deal for the Kings.
Looking ahead, there are at least some reasons for optimism next season with Brown at the helm.
In 11 games after the All-Star break as the unquestioned No. 1 option in the backcourt, Fox averaged 29.3 points and shot 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. His three-point shooting saw a massive uptick considering he hit only 27.1 percent of his long-range jumpers in the first half.
Davion Mitchell had an encouraging rookie year as well. He dished out 4.2 assists, and the Kings were 4.6 points per 100 possessions better on defense with him on the floor, according to NBA.com.
Considering how hard the learning curve can be for young guards, Mitchell should make some nice improvements in 2022-23.
Sabonis will have the benefit of a full offseason in Sacramento, too. Working such an important player into the flow of the offense can be difficult when a team is attempting to get its season on track, and a bruised knee took the 26-year-old center out of the lineup down the final stretch.
If nothing else, the pieces should be there for Brown to mount a much better challenge at a top-six seed in the West, guaranteeing safe passage to the first round.