George Karl’s first practice with the Kings is in the books as the players arrived back from the All-Star break on Wednesday.
Karl focused on offense in his inaugural practice session in Sacramento and will focus on defense on Thursday.
Here’s Karl’s take on all things Kings with the trade deadline looming at noon on Thursday and his first game at the helm in Sacramento on Friday versus the Celtics.
On NBA trade deadline at noon Thursday:
[Wednesday] was all basketball for me. I’ve been in Pete’s office 10 minutes, but I’m sure we’ll get together tonight to talk about practice and trades.
As we all know, 99 percent of stuff turns into gossip, I’m sure something will happen -- not sure it’ll be with us.
On how the first practice went:
A lot of good. A lot of bad. I was very happy with the effort [Wednesday]. [Wednesday] we worked offense. [Thursday] we’re going to work defense.
There’s a lot good talent out there. Just gotta figure out how to make it fit, fit pieces together better and get more confidence in the game. Get them angry and let them go play.
Their energy was very, very good. Their play at times was very, very good. There were some mistakes. There was some crazy out there but that’s mostly on me...
I’ve got to figure out what they do well and what their habits are.
If I had one thought [Wednesday] we turned it over too much but I sped 'em up, I sped them up, too. We’re playing a totally different speed than they probably played at all year long.
I thought [the players] were fired up maybe to impress me, maybe to play with good energy.
On being back in gym:
I was very nervous. I was very nervous, the first talk [to the team]. ... But once on the court, I think it’s going to be a positive ride, a positive journey.
On message to team:
I want you to forget about the last 52 games. I’m going to talk to you all one on one, but I want to think about winning now and the 30 games we have left and stay away from blaming anybody for what happened.
For me the chalkboard is clean. ... For me it’s what happens from now forward, not necessarily what happened in past 52 games.
On DeMarcus Cousins:
I talked to [Cousins] for about 10 minutes before practice. I talked to him about basically what was going to happen in practice. I said ... maybe on a daily basis, let’s just check in with each other for whatever five, 10, 15 minutes.
I thought he was really good. I mean he’s really a skilled basketball player.
On Rudy Gay:
I was really impressed with how big he is. He’s very long, athletic guy. I think I’ll play him more at four than he’s played the first 52 games. I think you’re going to see me play small with him being my four-man.
On how much Darren Collison, who missed the last four games with strained right hip flexor injury, did at practice:
Not very much. He did some running. Did some shooting, but he didn’t get any contact.
On Ben McLemore:
I think I said to him two or three times, "I want you more aggressive. I don’t want you conservative. I don’t want you just to be a shooter. I want you to be a basketball player."
He was somewhat into it, somewhat into trying to take some chances. I thought he actually thought he had a good practice.
He’s probably one of Top 5 players [in practice].
On Nik Stauskas:
I think we’ve got to get Nik some minutes. I think he’s gotta get on the court to get some confidence in his game and give him some shots -- try to find him a rhythm.
He’s got this rookie mental block. I told him my first 15-20 games of my career I don’t think I made a shot. I was scared to death.
The rookie gets picked on and you lose your confidence and you don’t play and you don’t have an opportunity to regain it.
Hopefully somewhere in these next 30 games, he’ll get a run of six, seven games where he starts playing at a better level, a more confident level and I think he’s talented enough to get it done.
On adding Nancy Lieberman to coaching staff:
She’s a quality basketball person. ... I don’t think those decisions will be made until summer time. ... She’ll be someone I have interest in.
On style of play and limiting turnovers:
It’s about shot selection without turnovers and I thought they understood the shots I want and I think we’ll get better at it every day.
Don’t be Magic Johnson, just be a good basketball player and good basketball players don’t make bad decisions.
Getting 48 minutes of flow and rhythm, might mean I got to change the lineup a little bit and play people a different way. I don’t know exactly what that means.
I want the bench to be more positive of an impact on the game. How I figure that out is something I really want to do.
I think I’ve got to get in some of my stuff and keep some of the stuff that they’ve been pretty good at. I think it’s a combination of both.
I would like to gravitate to where I feel comfortable making calls for them and helping them get shots, but in the same sense they have to take the opportunity.
On the hype and hoopla of his press conference and public appearances on Tuesday:
Coach Smith’s funeral. ... He was such a humble man. He was a man of humility. Yesterday was a little bit tough. ... It was little too much. ... I don’t deserve this man. Come on man.
I’ve won a lot of games but that’s all in the past. I got to re-establish myself. I got to get better as a coach.
And I got to work hard because coming in in the middle of the season is a challenge. I’m not saying it’s an impossible challenge, but it’s a challenge to give a team a direction and confidence and take away the frustration and anger of what’s happened in the first 52.