NEW YORK -- George Karl is the new head coach of the Kings taking over for Tyrone Corbin, general manager Pete D’Alessandro announced Thursday.
Widely anticipated, Karl to the Kings was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports as a four-year deal worth roughly $14.5 million, including a $1.5 million buyout provision on the $5 million owed Karl in the final year of the contract.
Yahoo! Sports sources say that Karl will earn $1.25 million through the rest of this season, $3.25 million next season and $5 million per season in the final two years of the deal.
The sixth winningest coach in NBA history, Karl assumes leadership of the Kings (18-34) after Corbin went 7-21 as Sacramento’s head coach.
Sacramento was one of the NBA’s hot stories early this season -- starting the year with one of the toughest schedules in the league at 5-1 and then 9-6 before DeMarcus Cousins went out with viral meningitis.
At 11-13, and after nine games without Cousins on the floor due to the illness, Michael Malone was fired and Corbin took the reins after serving as an assistant on Malone’s staff.
The Kings are hungry to get back to glory days when Sacramento was lauded as one of the NBA’s most entertaining teams in the Rick Adelman era (1999-2006).
Sacramento represents the third time that Karl takes over a team in mid-season, and his results in the previous two instances are eye popping:
Karl lead Seattle to a record of 27-15 after taking over in the 1991-92 season, and the Sonics finished the regular season at 47-35 before advancing to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Karl led Seattle to the NBA Finals in 1996 before the Sonics fell to in six games to the Bulls.
Karl once again turned a team around in mid-season in the 2004-05 campaign, leading Denver to a 32-8 record under his tutelage before a first round exit in the playoffs.
Despite being named the NBA Coach of the Year in Denver in 2012-13, Karl was fired after losing in the first round of the playoffs to Golden State. The dismissal came after leading Denver to nine consecutive playoff appearances.
In 25 years as a head coach, Karl has made the playoffs in 22 seasons and is the sixth most successful coach in NBA history, amassing an overall record of 1131-756 and a winning percentage of .599.
Stability has proven elusive in Sacramento. Perhaps Karl, a proven winner, can end the revolving door in the coaching office in California’s capital city.
Karl is the fourth coach in four-and-a-half years since Cousins arrived in Sacramento and is the Kings’ third coach this season. He is the eighth coach in the past nine years since the team’s most successful run in California with Adelman at the helm, and is the Kings' eighth coach in the past nine years. Karl now becomes the 16th coach in the 30-year era in Sacramento. Karl’s offensive philosophy includes “playing with freedom” and “playing fast” which fits with the Kings' management's vision of a more uptempo style.
D’Alessandro cited “philosophical differences” over offensive pace with Malone as the principal reason for the dismissal of the second year head coach on Dec. 14. Malone’s brief tenure in Sacramento ended at 39-67.
Cousins’ strong relationship with Malone was well documented and Karl must now cement a similar foundation with the franchise’s marquee player as well as implement the offensive changes that he espouses and Kings management desires.
Getting this deal done was long, arduous and played out with Cousins issuing a statement on Wednesday refuting media reports that he or his representation was in any way against the hiring of Karl.
Karl was without question eager to get back on the sidelines.
“If they’re interested in me, I’m interested in them,” Karl said on Sirius XM NBA Radio, after the surprise Malone firing.
A two-time cancer survivor, Karl has coached in Cleveland, Golden State, Milwaukee and Denver. Karl played as a guard at the University of North Carolina for the late legendary Dean Smith before playing three seasons in the ABA and two in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs. Karl’s first game leading the Kings will be after the All-Star break, versus the Boston Celtics on Friday Feb. 20 at Sleep Train Arena.