Kings fire interim coach Gentry, miss playoffs for 16th year
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings fired interim coach Alvin Gentry on Monday, a day after the franchise missed the playoffs for an NBA-record 16th straight season.
The 67-year-old Gentry was promoted from associate head coach to interim coach when the Kings fired Luke Walton in November following a 6-11 start. Sacramento finished the season at 30-52.
Gentry had most recently served as head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (2015-20). He has also made head coaching stops with Miami, Detroit, the Clippers and Phoenix. He has a career record of 534-636.
“The entire Kings organization is grateful for the leadership of Alvin Gentry, who stepped up when he got the call mid-season,” general manager Monte McNair said in a statement. “We appreciate his leadership on and off the court.”
Gentry’s dismissal comes following another turbulent season for the Kings. Sacramento traded away budding star Tyrese Haliburton and former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III in hopes of shaking things up, yet the season ended with the same familiar results.
The Kings finished 12th in the Western Conference and extended a postseason drought that began in 2006 after the last of eight consecutive playoff appearances.
What owner Vivek Ranadive had hoped would be a turnaround campaign for his club instead turned into another frustrating year for a once-loyal fan base. The Kings were 29th out of the league’s 30 teams in attendance, playing many of their games at a half-filled Golden 1 Center.
The numbers on the court weren’t much better.
Sacramento ranked 16th in scoring this season but was 29th in defense despite getting a lift on that end of the court from rookie Davion Mitchell. The Kings were also 27th in rebounding and 24th in 3-point shooting.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox was in and out of the lineup, missing 23 games with a variety of injuries. Two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, who arrived when Haliburton and Buddy Hield were traded to the Pacers, made a big splash in Sacramento before sitting out the final nine games with a knee injury.
Although general manager Monte McNair has brought some order to the front office, the Kings’ problems still range from a lack of talent, a lack of stability within the coaching staff and an overall malaise that has overtaken the franchise since Rick Adelman coached the team to its last playoff appearance in 2005-06.
Walton was fired 17 games into his third season after the Kings stumbled to a 6-11 start. Walton’s teams went 68-93, a winning percentage of .422 that is the second-highest in the team’s Sacramento era only to Adelman, who had a winning percentage of .633. The Kings didn’t do much better under Gentry, going 24-41 over the final 65 games. The team has had 11 coaches since Adelman and will be looking for No. 12 in the coming weeks.
McNair made a bold move when he dealt for Sabonis. Haliburton was McNair’s first draft pick after getting hired in Sacramento and had shown great promise in his year-plus with the team. But the 6-foot-11 Sabonis gave the Kings a presence in the paint they haven’t had since trading DeMarcus Cousins in 2017. Sabonis averaged 18.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 15 games with the Kings before getting hurt in late March.
Fox’s production dipped slightly from a year ago but he still averaged 23.2 points and 5.6 assists before sitting out the final 11 games with an injured wrist. Mitchell, the ninth overall pick and the team’s best defensive player, filled in the gap with Fox out, dishing out seven or more assists in each of the Kings’ final 10 games.
BAGLEY ERA OVER
The Kings took a lot of heat for drafting Bagley ahead of Luka Doncic in 2018, so it was not much of a surprise when the team traded him. Whether because of injuries or coach’s decisions, Bagley missed 135 games over his three-plus seasons in Sacramento before the trade to Detroit. In exchange, the Kings acquired Donte DiVincenzo.
The Kings will once again be a lottery team and need help across the board. Before that, however, the franchise has to decide on a head coach. Historically they’ve gone with veteran coaches, although McNair could change things up this season and go with a fresher look.
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