SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento Kings announced Thursday that they had reached an agreement in principle with George Karl to become the head coach.
The team said a news conference to introduce Karl would be scheduled when the agreement is finalized.
Karl, the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history, is expected to coach the Kings in their first game following the All-Star break at home against Boston on Feb. 20.
Karl will be Sacramento’s third coach this season.
The Kings made the surprising move to fire Michael Malone in December after an 11-13 start in his second season as coach, even though they had shown progress until All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins was sidelined for an extended period with viral meningitis. Malone was replaced by Tyrone Corbin, but the Kings said Thursday that Corbin had been relieved of his head coaching duties.
General manager Pete D’Alessandro said in a statement that Corbin will remain with the Kings as an adviser to the front office.
“I have the utmost respect for Tyrone as a coach and person,” said D’Alessandro. “He’s a man of great integrity, a consummate professional that managed a difficult situation with class and professionalism. I look forward to continuing to work with Tyrone moving forward.”
Karl is a proven winner in the league and a familiar face for Sacramento’s front office.
D’Alessandro and assistant general manager Mike Bratz are among those who worked with him in Denver, and team adviser Chris Mullin played for Karl with the Golden State Warriors from 1986-88.
Karl last coached in the 2012-13 season, when he won NBA Coach of the Year with the Nuggets before being fired following a first-round playoff loss to the Warriors. D’Alessandro left Denver that summer and brought Bratz with him to Sacramento.
The Nuggets made the postseason all nine years under Karl. They advanced past the first round only once during his tenure, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference finals.
Karl, who has been working as an analyst for ESPN, has let it be known the last two months that he wants another shot on the sidelines.
The 63-year-old Karl, a cancer survivor, is one of nine coaches in league history to surpass 1,000 wins. He has 1,131 victories as a head coach, with stops in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle and Milwaukee, earning a reputation for turning around teams.
Sacramento certainly presents another one of those challenges.
The Kings are headed for a ninth straight losing season and are trying to rebuild around Cousins, who has a history of clashing with coaches but was close with Malone. Cousins clearly doesn’t like being dragged into the situation, though, venting his frustration to reporters after hitting the game-winning shot against Phoenix on Sunday night and releasing a statement through his agents at Relativity Sports to several media outlets Tuesday.
“I wasn’t consulted when the decision was made to fire Mike Malone and I’m not being consulted now,” Cousins said in the statement. “I just hope they make a decision soon and stick with it. George Karl is an experienced, proven coach and if that is who they chose to coach this team, I will support it. I do not like all these discussions in the media while we have a coach in place. It is a distraction and not fair to Coach Corbin and this team.”
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Mullin and D’Alessandro had discussed Karl’s candidacy since December. They’d also weighed whether to conduct a lengthier search in the offseason when more coaches might be available and have the benefit of training camp to prepare.
But with the Kings continuing to fall into irrelevance in the deep Western Conference, they ultimately decided to make another switch now.