The last time the Kings were looking for a new head coach, they conducted an exhaustive search that lasted for almost a month while they were reviewing a dozen candidates before they got there. focus on Dave Joerger.
This time, they quickly mobilized to get one of the most in-demand training products on the market.
The Kings hired Luke Walton on Saturday, just two days after Joerger's dismissal and just 24 hours after Walton agreed to part with the Los Angeles Lakers. A league source, who requested anonymity because the deal had not been officially announced, said The Sacramento's Bee the Kings had finalized a four-year deal with Walton to the outcome of a face-to-face interview with General Manager Vlade Divac in Sacramento.
Walton and Divac could be contacted for comment, but other NBA members quickly responded, including Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
"Happy for Luke," Kerr told reporters in Oakland before a playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers. "It was fast, great opportunity, though, really nice, young team, I thought Dave Joerger did a great job in the last couple of years and they've laid a very good foundation, so it's a great opportunity. for him. "
Before hiring Joerger in 2016, the Kings interviewed Sam Mitchell, Vinny Del Negro, Mike Woodson, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, Hornacek Jeff, Nate McMillan, Patrick Ewing and Corliss Williamson. They were also linked to candidates such as Henry Bibby, Ettore Messina, James Borrego and Elston Turner, who eventually came to Sacramento as a member of Joerger's staff.
Walton, 39, was apparently the coveted Kings coach, but Sacramento was not considered an attractive destination at the time.
It has changed. The Kings have a talented young team of De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III. They went 39-43 this season to finish ninth in the Western conference, recording their best ever since their last playoff appearance in 2006.
Stylistically, Walton is considered a perfect fit for the uptempo system that the Kings have launched on the circuit this season. Divac said it would be a prerequisite for the job after Joerger's dismissal Thursday.
"Our new coach must first and foremost adopt the style we had last year," said Divac. "It's the style of kings. We must play this way. "
Divac also said he would like a new coach soon, the team entering a critical off season with about $ 38 million to spend as a free agent.
"I want my coach to be right next to me and we can talk about the team and what exists to improve our team," said Divac. "I want my coach to be on the same page."
Walton set a record of 98-148 in three seasons with the Lakers, the same record Joerger had with the Kings. He made tremendous progress with a young squad in his first two seasons before his development was put on the back burner after LeBron James arrived last summer.
The Lakers were fourth in the Western Conference and looked set to make a run at their first playoff appearance since 2013, but injuries and internal strife have derailed their season. Walton and the Lakers agreed to split Friday after the team finished with a 37-45 record.
Walton worked as an assistant to the Warriors from 2014 to 2016. He was part of the staff who won an NBA championship in 2014-15. The following season, he led the team to a 39-4 record as an interim head coach when Kerr took a leave to get back in shape.
Kerr firmly backed Walton on Friday after the Lakers announced that he would not be coming back next season. League sources told The Bee that Divac had arranged a meeting with Walton less than an hour after the announcement.
"In this job, as a coach in the NBA, you are 100% dependent on your situation, the strength of your organization, the dynamics, the unit," Kerr said. "Everything must be in order, because if not, as we have seen with the Lakers, there will be injuries and the coach is usually first.
"And so they lose one of the best human beings in the NBA. They lose a guy who knows the game as well as everyone I have ever met. They are losing somebody in which the players believe, the players want to play, but again, he was dependent on circumstances, like all of us, and I am sensitive to Luke. "
Walton spent nine of his ten seasons as an NBA player with the Lakers. Walton and Divac were teammates in the last season of Divac with the Lakers in 2004-05. Walton then helped the Lakers win consecutive championships as a key reserve in 2009-10.