Walton Takes the Fall as Kings Stumble


A vocal group of Kings fans got their wish Sunday.

Luke Walton was fired even though just two weeks ago, Kings general manager Monte McNair told Sam Amick of the Athletic that Walton was his man.

Is Walton a good head coach?  Certainly his record isn’t very good.  Coaches are only as good as their players, however.  Coaches coach, players play.  How well they play is a key component in whether a coach is “good or bad”.

Several key Kings players have not performed very well this year.

De’Aaron Fox, the team leader, has really struggled.  His scoring average has dropped from 25.2 to 19.7 points per game.  Fox has never been regarded as an elite shooter, but he has really had trouble shooting the ball this year.  His field-goal percentage is down to 41.9% from 47.7% and from distance, Fox is shooting an abysmal 24.3% compared to a serviceable 32.2% last season.

And who can forget this play?  The Kings, after blowing an 18-point lead against the Thunder, have the ball with 26 seconds on the clock in a tie game.  Walton draws up an isolation:  Fox against Luguentz Dort.  Kings should at least get a shot up and if it doesn’t go in, they still have a chance to win in overtime.

Wrong.  This was Walton’s fault, right?

Tyrese Haliburton, a rookie-of-the-year finalist a year ago, was moved into the starting lineup.  Fox and Haliburton are supposed to be the Kings’ long-term backcourt.  We expected Haliburton’s numbers to rise since he’s in the starting lineup and now a second-year player.

Silly us.  Even though he didn’t start for most of last year, Haliburton played starter’s minutes.  His stats this year are virtually identical to the ones he posted last year.

The Kings were really excited about their first-round draft choice, Davion Mitchell.  The steal of the draft?  A defensive dynamo who would heal the Kings’ defensive deficiencies.

Mitchell has been fairly good defensively.  Offensively?  Well, outside of a game or two, the stats aren’t pretty: 8.9 points per game, 37.7% from the field, 28.2% from deep and 58.8% from the line.

Former No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III has hardly played and when he has pulled the splinters out of his butt he has been atrocious, shooting 30% from the field, 14.3% from beyond the arc and 40% from the free-throw stripe.

He even refused to play when Walton asked him to sub in.

Terence Davis, a trade-deadline acquisition last season, was expected to be a spark off the bench.  He fell out of the rotation because he couldn’t hit the ocean if he was standing on the pier.  He’s gone from 42.8% shooting last year to 31.7% this season and from 36.7% to 23.1% from deep.

It’s not a pretty picture.  Yeah, it’s all Walton’s fault.  He’s a BAD coach.

But wait.  Warriors coach Steve Kerr should know something about good coaches and bad coaches.

Ah yes, Kerr mentioned “stability of the organization”.

Interim Kings coach Alvin Gentry is the Kings eleventh head coach in 15 years since they fired Hall of Fame coach Rick Adelman after the 2006 season.  That doesn’t sound like a very stable situation to me.

Will their be a twelfth new head coach next year?  Just might be.  Gentry is ONLY the interim coach.

I was very excited about the chances of this team making the playoffs after 15 years of being on the outside looking in.  I thought it was the right move to keep Walton for this season because this team — this franchise — needs stability.  That’s obviously out the window now.

The Kings have a good core of young players.  They also have more depth than they had a year ago, but their roster is very unbalanced.  It is crowded in the backcourt and at center, but they lack strong wing players.

Hopefully McNair will be able to address that before too much more of the season is behind them.

This Kings team has proven they can compete.  After nine games, the Kings were 5-4 despite playing one of the league’s toughest schedules.  Six of their first nine opponents were playoff teams last year.  They faced Utah twice and Phoenix once.  For those with a short memory, the Jazz and Suns were the two winningest teams in the NBA last year.  Phoenix went to the finals.  The Kings were competitive in all nine games.

But it seems it was too good to be true.  Fools gold!

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight. 

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About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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