So the Sacramento Kings, who don’t know what they’re doing on any day, have decided after being ready to fire head coach George Karl after each of the last three road games, have decided to keep him after all? Of course they do.
And who wants to bet we go through another one of these before season’s end? Everyone? Of course you do.
The Kings are a disaster of epic proportions, fully Clipper- and Warrior-like in their scope. They have in Vivek Ranadive an owner who is Chris Cohan to the nines, and a revolving door of other executives who know that their next decision can be undone at a whim.
They have Karl, who is trying to teach basketball as he knows it to a team that seems resistant to his instruction. And they have the players, who have known nothing but misery and dysfunction.
And they have the proud history of Sacramento basketball, in which other than the last seven years of the Rick Adelman Era, the Kings have NEVER HAD A WINNING SEASON. No Run TMC, no We Believe, and surely no Stephen Curry.
They are the new Los Angeles Clippers, from the owner to the building, and they are as the Warriors were until four years ago – at a complete loss to know how to do anything without a blind hope that somehow they’ll get lucky when they don’t deserve to.
And general manager Vlade Divac’s meeting with Karl today, with the team heading for Philadelphia and Wednesday’s pre-All-Star-Break final game, must have been a beauty. I mean, “We are working collectively on our issues?”
Well, aside from the fact that “their issues” are nothing they can actually work on, since “their issues” are Ranadive, who either cannot decide whether he wants to fire him or is getting enough resistance from his fractious investors about paying him the remaining $11 million or so, minus a buyout provision in the final year of his deal, which happens to be in 2019.
The problems here are multiple. Ranadive’s investors don’t like his leadership style, and he’s not crazy with the notion that they think 35 percent can outvote 65 percent.
Then there is the gravitational pull of bad organizations; they struggle against a tide of reactionary instincts because they cannot get ahead of crises fast enough to fashion a proactive stance. The Warriors lived this for almost all its history from 1977 through 2012 – the Run TMC idea worked, at least for awhile, and the We Believe season was almost pure unadulterated luck. Other than that, the Warriors reacted to failures by making more failures, until they reached that hallowed state where whatever action they took was inevitably the wrong one.
And frankly, they only broke out of that cycle because they gambled on Curry’s ankles rather than the known metrics of Monta Ellis.
The Kings don’t have that Curry moment yet, where the aha! moment strikes them. Instead, they are struck by their shortsighted vision of themselves as crisis managers rather than team builders. They are relying on their new building saving them when in fact the Kings in any building bring a level of toxicity that almost assures a brief architectural honeymoon of sellouts, followed by new dissatisfactions at dramatically increased prices.
Their fan base lives in some measure of hope, given that despite all the evidence they have sold out the Sleep Train 18 times in 25 home dates. But this sturm und drang over Karl reminds them all that their hope goes perpetually unrewarded, and that they cannot live on the injustice of 2002 forever.
Instead, they are treated to the same team, again and again, clueless, gormless and locked in a perpetual state of confusion either because their owners have too little or too many ideas, because their basketball people hit on the right guy far too seldom for any sense of continuity, and who rebuild new rubble on the old rubble and slap a new uniform on it.
So in many ways, the about-face on George Karl is so perfectly Kings that we should be surprised by none of it. Every dire report is always correct even after all the frantic denials, until it is superseded by some new dire report.
But as long as they “are collectively working through their issues,” I guess they can call it progress. At least until February 12, which will be Karl’s first anniversary coaching in basketball’s current version of hell.