MEMPHIS -- The Sacramento Kings have contacted Vinny Del Negro about the team’s coaching position, according to league sources. Del Negro is a career 210-184 in coaching stints with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers. In 2013, his last season with L.A., Del Negro won 56 games. He was fired after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and was replaced by Doc Rivers.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who has taken a very hands-on approach since assuming control of the team last year, has been weighing a number of options since firing Mike Malone on Sunday. Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin was elevated to head coach, and there is a growing sense around the league that Corbin will be allowed to coach the team the rest of the season. George Karl, the 2012-13 coach of the year who coaches an up-tempo style preferred by ownership, has stated publicly that he is interested in the job. There is also internal support to hire Chris Mullin, an advisor to Ranadive. ESPN reported on Tuesday that Mullin was reluctant to take over the team midseason.
The decision to fire Malone has been met with mixed feelings around the league. While the philosophical differences between Malone and the Kings owner and front office are well known, many league officials were stunned that Sacramento would fire a coach that had the Kings 9-6 before losing franchise center DeMarcus Cousins to a serious case of viral meningitis last month. Cousins has shown significant improvement in his year-plus playing under Malone.
On Monday, Cousins expressed disappointment at Malone’s dismissal.
“I learned a lot from him," Cousins told reporters. "I’m very thankful to play for coach Malone. At the end of the day, we know this is a business. Everything doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. I wish nothing but the best for coach. I hate it had to end this way. But he has my respect, because he’s a great coach.
“I think it’s a lot more emotional on the team this year because so many guys believed in Malone and his system," Cousins added. "It’s just so unexpected."