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Kings fire head coach Luke Walton after 6-11 start to season, per report

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The Sacramento Kings have fired head coach Luke Walton after two-plus frustrating seasons, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Walton, who took over in 2019, was 68-93 during his time in charge. At this point there has reportedly been no decision on an interim head coach, though assistants Alvin Gentry and Doug Christie are under consideration. 

There have been whispers about Walton’s future since last season, and they only ramped up after the Kings’ disappointing start to this campaign. Earlier this month, a report from The Athletic indicated that Walton was in danger of losing his job if he couldn’t turn things around. 

Instead, they only got worse. The Kings have lost their last three games, and seven of their last eight outings to fall to 6-11 on the season, which has them in 12th place in the Western Conference. The most recent defeat, a 123-105 capitulation to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, featured a fan puking on the court in a fitting bit of symbolism. With that, Walton was done. 

“One thing that’s really helped us is (that) we have a very, very clear goal,” Kings general manager Monte McNair told The Athletic. “We want to get this organization back to the playoffs. We want to get back there, (and) that helps (that) we have a singular focus.”

The Kings have not made the postseason since 2006 — the longest drought in the league — and despite a stream of lottery picks they haven’t made any significant progress on that goal. Walton was the 10th head coach that they’ve hired since their last playoff appearance, and now they’ll have to start over once again. While there are examples of mid-season coaching changes revitalizing teams, this is in danger of becoming another lost season for the Kings. 

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In addition to the coaching issue, there are also concerns with the roster, not least of which is De’Aaron Fox’s slow start to the season. He’s looked nothing like a franchise player so far, averaging 19.7 points and 5.8 assists on 41.9 percent shooting from the field and 24.3 percent from 3-point land. His numbers are down across the board, and the Kings simply don’t have the depth or talent to make up for his lack of production. 

There’s also the Marvin Bagley III situation, which has been hanging over the team for some time now, and epitomizes their recent failures. He was the No. 2 overall pick in 2018, taken ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, but has played just 122 games during a frustrating three-plus seasons. He’s currently out of the rotation, his agent is publicly feuding with the franchise and the Kings are in danger of losing him for nothing in free agency next summer. 

While there are some interesting players on this team, including young guards like Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell, whoever takes over as head coach is going to have a long road ahead of them. 

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