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Kings have last-minute change of heart, plan to keep George Karl as coach, according to report

After another blowout loss, the Kings appeared ready to move on to yet another coach. However, they've decided to keep George Karl after all.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings' plan to fire head coach George Karl has taken a sharp U-turn. After setting plans in motion to fire him, the Kings have decided to keep the legendary coach in a drastic change of heart, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Karl's future in Sacramento appeared numbered after the team's latest blowout loss to Cleveland put them at 21-31 on the season. Plans were set in motion to fire Karl during the All-Star Break, according to Stein and others. Instead, the Kings will keep Karl and hope he can improve his relationship with the team's players and repair the damage done.

But there's a lot of damage to repair. After a 1-7 start to the season, the Kings scrapped their way to a 20-23 record and found themselves in the thick of the race for the eighth playoff spot in the West. But another implosion was looming. The Kings lost eight of their next nine games with miserable defense and poor effort -- including giving up 128 points to both the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics in back-to-back games.


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Coaching instability has been a major problem under Vivek Ranadive, but there were reasons to fire Karl. Sacramento gave Mike Malone the boot just 24 games into last season despite a respectable 11-13 start that included a DeMarcus Cousins absence due to a bout of viral meningitis. Former general manager Pete D'Alessandro cited philosophical differences for the move.

Interim head coach Tyrone Corbin was signed through the rest of the season, but Corbin was canned after only 28 games in order to hire Karl on owner Vivek Ranadive's wishes. D'Alessandro didn't want to hire Karl, and he wound up leaving the franchise in the offseason after Ranadive hired Vlade Divac in March to effectively usurp D'Alessandro's power.

Things have been rocky with Karl from the start. Cousins didn't want Malone fired and there were rumors that the big man didn't want Karl as head coach. The offseason brought rumblings of a feud between star and coach, as well as trade talks and an upset Ranadive. No deal ever came to fruition and Sacramento added some nice pieces in free agency, but things went off the rails early this season thanks in part to an injury to Cousins.

After an ugly 106-88 loss to the San Antonio Spurs dropped the Kings to 1-7 on the year, Cousins revealed there were "internal issues" the team needed to deal with and that a players-only meeting was in order. Rudy Gay said schemes on both sides of the ball needed to be examined and questions arose about Karl's effectiveness.

Sacramento will try to find some modicum of stability after years of dysfunction. At least they still have a head coach.