By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – At Tuesday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kings Owner Vivek Ranadivé explained for the first time why the team fired coach Michael Malone.

“I personally and this organization will always have respect and highest regard for Michael Malone,” Ranadivé said.

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Now Ranadivé and the Kings front office are searching for Malone’s replacement.

“I know that the fans have reacted to this, I know they have strong feelings and it just underscores what we knew all along: that we have the best fans in sports,” Ranadivé said.

Ranadivé spoke to CBS13 inside his private Kings meeting room. He applauded fans’ frustration over the Michael Malone firing.

“They’re passionate, they’re engaged, they’re informed, they let their opinions known – even if they don’t agree with what they’re doing,” Ranadivé said.

Malone’s sudden firing is drawing questions about who’s in line as a replacement.

One name: Chris Mullin.

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We chased down Mullin in a sleep train hallway, but he had no comment when asked about the reported interest he’s drawing.

Mullin is already on the Kings’ staff as a consultant. Ranadivé told CBS13 he consulted with Mullin and GM Pete D’Alessandro and they agree Ty Corbin, who was an assistant coach under Malone, is the right person to coach the team through the rest of the season.

“We believe that Ty Corbin has been there, with us through the offseason and he provides that continuity,” Ranadivé said.

Ranadivé said Malone was the right pick for this Kings head coaching position a year ago when the team needed stability.

Now he says the team needs to play less like a marching band and more like a jazz band – faster paced and more flexibility.

“And the job of the coach, the director, is to be more like a jazz director in music,” Ranadivé said.

The owner facing fan scrutiny after firing his head coach, now explaining his winning formula.

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“We believe the pivot that we have made will actually allow us to win more games,” Ranadivé said.