George Karl was introduced as the Kings new coach on at a press conference on Tuesday and he can’t wait to get going.
“I’ve missed the gym,’ Karl said. “I love the game and I want one more shot at trying to win a championship.”
“I said to Pete (Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro) today, I’m tired of talking . . . let’s go play basketball.”
Despite being named the NBA Coach of the Year in Denver in 2012-13, Karl was fired and has been away from the sidelines for the last year and a half.
Turning around the Kings (18-34) revolves around their lone All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins.
“DeMarcus to me is the most skilled big guy probably in the NBA right now,” Karl said. “An incredible rebounder, an improving defensive player and an offensive guy that doesn’t probably have a weakness.”
“DeMarcus is our best player, He’s our most talented player. I compare him talent wise to Shawn (Kemp) and a little bit emotionally to Gary Payton. Gary wore his emotions on his sleeves . . . said things he shouldn’t have said. He acted kind of crazy and out of control at times. Gary Payton is one of best friends now . . . We didn’t like each other a lot early in our relationship.”
Karl was reluctant to put a specific number of wins as the goal over the remaining 30 games this season but knows where he wants to go with the Kings.
“I want to be an aggressive, intense, energized and I want to play offense created by defense,” Karl said in part the 36 minute press conference.
Karl acknowledged the Kings' trust had dipped and is now “disconnected.”
"Carolina basketball is based on playing hard, playing together and getting better,” Karl stated reinforcing his North Carolina Tar Heel roots. “That's Coach Dean Smith's philosophy."
“Trust and belief in each other is important,” Karl, referred to by D’Alessandro as a “basketball savant,“ added. “We over analyze a simple game.”
The 63-year-old coach becomes Sacramento’s third coach this season after Michael Malone and Tyrone Corbin, and empathized with the player’s plight.
“I think the commitment of the players to take these next 30 games and wash away . . . the basketball hell that they’ve been living in for two months . . . my need is to take what we have, magnify it and and reconnect it and re-energize it in a positive way.”
The 25-year head coaching career of Karl has been more than positive, it’s been one of the best in history.
Karl is the sixth most successful coach in NBA history, amassing an overall record of 1131-756 - a winning percentage of .599 - and has made the playoffs in 22 seasons.
However, Karl recognizes the turnaround in California’s capital city won’t be easy.
“I think one challenge I have this year is to get the fans supportive that we’re going to be a good team. I think we can get that done this year. I don’t know statistically or wins and losses or what? But we have 30 games left to play the game at a better level, to play the game more together and to play the game where fans can appreciate our effort and hopefully our successes along the way.”
The Karl era in Sacramento begins Friday as the Kings entertain the Celtics (20-31) at Sleep Train Arena.