Kings management tried to force Michael Malone to play Royce White, according to report
Owner Vivek Ranadive also reportedly wanted to trade for Josh Smith and have the team consider playing 4-on-5 on defense at times.
Michael Malone’s firing didn’t come completely out of nowhere, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Malone, who the Kings fired late Sunday night, was often approached by team owner Vivek Ranadive with a number of suggestions. One, which came last year, was to start playing forward Royce White.
The 16th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, White, whose issues with Generalized Anxiety Disorder have been well chronicled, had never and still has yet to play in an NBA game. Last year, when Ranadive approached Malone, White was playing with the Kings‘ Developmental League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. There, he averaged just nine points in 24 minutes per game. Yet the Kings’ front office was reportedly wondering when Malone would actually play White in games.
“Pretty soon, they’re telling [Malone]: Why aren’t you putting him in the games? That’s when it really started to get bad between him and the guys upstairs,” a source told Yahoo! Sports.
According to this Yahoo! Sports report, the relationship deteriorated even further in July when Ranadive, along with Kings general manager Peter D’Alessandro, tried to acquire Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith in a trade. Ranadive reportedly told outsiders that this was being done despite Malone’s objections.
Most of the coaching staff struggled to believe Smith could fit with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, and management differed. Talks with the Pistons shut down quickly, because Stan Van Gundy didn’t want to make the proposed deals, sources said. “The Smith situation caused everyone to take sides: Management against coaches, coaches against management,” a source told Yahoo Sports. “Things only got worse.”
Ranadive had pitched the idea of playing 4-on-5 defense and keeping a cherry picker on the other end of the court, according to Grantland in October. This Yahoo! report verifies that story and says that some of this strategy might be implemented under interim head coach Tyrone Corbin. Yahoo also adds that Ranadive “shared tactical experiences with Malone about coaching his child’s youth team.”
The Kings are currently 11-13 after going 28-54 last year, but they have also lost seven of their last nine games. That the losing streak has coincided with the team’s star, DeMarcus Cousins, falling sick with viral meningitis apparently was of no consequence to Ranadive and D’Alessandro. According to Yahoo! Sports, Kings management was waiting for an opportunity to let Malone go and bring in a different coach who’d have the team playing the up-tempo style that Ranadive and D’Alessandro want.
One name already being floated is George Karl, who worked with D’Alessandro in Denver.