On late Sunday evening, after the Golden State Warriors squeaked by the New Orleans Pelicans in overtime to claim their 83425th win in a row, something totally unforeseen happened. It had nothing to do with the Warriors - on the surface.
Sacramento has fired coach Mike Malone, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 15, 2014
First thought: hahahaha Sacramento Kings gon Sacramento Kings. Here is the full story.
Second thought: Let's try to hold some level of nuance here and try to dissect what is happening and how the Golden State Warriors' situation mirrors this on some small level.
We all should know well by now relationships > production in sports
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) December 15, 2014
By now, the Mark Jackson - Joe Lacob - Steve Kerr triangle has been played out a million different ways. To recap: I think the Warriors were set on firing Mark Jackson due to his lack of expected production and a total misunderstanding of cultural and interpersonal views. Then Lacob went on and after whiffing on Stan Van Gundy, an accomplished NBA head coach, landed his golf buddy Steve Kerr. Tabbed as an open-minded talent that held experience as a champion as a player and General Manager, the Warriors billed him as a worthy successor. In truth, Lacob's relationship with Kerr had made him a much more palatable marriage - with less people questioning the decision because of the love affair between the two sides. It didn't hurt that Kerr did his part in side-stepping all Jackson questions and, well, the rest is a 21-2 record.
As for the Kings, it was weird when Grantland aired the process with which the Kings drafted Nik Stauskas, complete with an absurdly awkward celebration chant thing. It's worked out for the Warriors so how will this affect the Kings?
1. Firing a coach midseason without any real alternative is simply asking for an onslaught of criticism. Did I even mention that DeMarcus Cousins has been out for weeks with viral meningitis and the Kings are still just a half game out of a playoff spot? The Kings are rumored to be kicking around the tires on Mark Jackson, Vinny Del Negro, and currently have Tyrone Corbin coaching the team. There are no jokes. That's a trifecta of terrible coaching - or, at least, when Jackson is by far the better hire, we have problems.
2. This is what happens when partnership between owners and coaches refuse to gel. When the Kings let Isaiah Thomas go for Darren Collison, we mocked them for it. Instead, they seemed to have won that swap and the Kings are excelling at least by their standards. Vivek Ranadive, the one that proposed a 4-on-5 cherry-picking offense seems to enjoy inane ideas so much that he let go of Malone because of strategic differences in pace of play. The progression of Cousins, Ben McLemore, and the great play of Rudy Gay and Darren Collison have caught everyone by surprise. Apparently that wasn't enough as Vivek's favorite player Nik Stauskas has averaged very little court time, and when he has played, been as awful as most rookie guards (and I love Stauskas). This isn't Jackson's isolation offense changing into Kerr's motion offense. This is stunting the growth of players midseason because, why? (The Kings have a top-10 protected pick going to the Chicago Bulls). There's also the thing where your best player is a low-post guy in the ilk of Shaquille O'Neal. But sure, pace.
3. Why in the world would an actual good coach like George Karl work for the Kings management at this point? The Warriors were stocked with talent and were an attractive destination to pretty much anyone with a brain. It doesn't seem logical for someone to walk into a job with someone as volatile as Ranadive and simply have to deal with this behavior. And if Malone knew about the high expectations the whole time, which seems likely? Then why go into a job with a lottery team with retreads and nearly every possible with the expectation to win 45+ games in the loaded Western Conference?
To recap: the Kings fired Mike Malone with expectations that he would lead this team to the playoffs; a team sans Cousins for the past two weeks and counting; with no real alternative except Tyrone Corbin who is a worse coach than Byron Scott; because they weren't playing fast enough even though their franchise stud is a back-it-down seven-footer; because he said no to a trade for Josh I take threes even though I make 10 percent of them Smith; because Malone probably didn't get along with management because Pete D'Alessandro didn't hire him; and because Vivek hired a coach before the GM so this entire thing has become an absurd circle of screwery. Take that, Joe Lacob!
When one parses through what's happened through this entire thing, the level of dysfunction remains the same, but there appears a more level-headed approach to franchise-building at Golden State. Good results do not make a good process. Rudy Gay and Darren Collison worked out but playing fast with Cousins and trying to piece Josh Smith in this lineup? Perhaps firing Malone is part of the process towards a more progressive offense but 20 games into the season appears borne out of dysfunction and the timing of a Cousins injury more than anything else.
If Vivek wanted Mike Malone gone so badly, he found the perfect timing with the team struggling due to the Cousins absence, which begs the question: if this is a matter of process like the Warriors would argue, would the Kings have fired Malone if Cousins was healthy and the team 13-11 or 14-10?
I guess this was just a long rambling stream of consciousness on the vague similarities between the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. At least we know one thing's for certain, despite the process in getting there, the Warriors chose right. The Kings are about to find out if they did as well.