The Sacramento Kings fired coach George Karl on Thursday, the team announced.
“After evaluating the team’s performance this season, I determined it was necessary to move forward with a new voice from the head coaching position,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for George and his accomplishments throughout his nearly 30 years in the NBA,” said Divac. “On behalf of everyone in the Kings organization, I thank him for the contributions made during his time in Sacramento and wish him good fortune in the future.”
Divac had decided against firing Karl in early February after meeting with the coach, who pledged to make some changes to address growing concerns within the organization about his defensive schemes and practice policies.
Karl also nearly lost his job in November after a public dispute with center DeMarcus Cousins.
“While I would have loved to continue on this journey, I am very proud of our work and I want to thank Kings management for the opportunity to have coached this exciting team with such a bright future,” Karl said Thursday in a statement. “It’s my heartfelt feeling that the magnificent new arena will be hosting many playoff runs and an eventual championship, which the Sacramento fans, some of the most loyal and supportive people I’ve ever known in my many years in the NBA, very much deserve.
“With a profound humility, moving forward, I wish nothing but the best for this franchise and its players.”
The Kings finished this season 33-49, capped by a 116-81 loss to Houston on Wednesday, and missed the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season despite expectations from owner Vivek Ranadive to end that drought. The team will be moving into a new arena next season.
The Kings ranked in the NBA’s top 10 in shooting percentage and 3-point field goal percentage, but they ranked in the bottom 10 defensive in those same categories.
The Kings’ next coach will be their ninth since 2006-07, the most in the league in that span.
The 64-year-old Karl, who will receive the remaining $6.5 million guaranteed from his four-year contract with the Kings, was hired during the 2015 All-Star break to replace then-interim coach Tyrone Corbin. That move came before Divac was installed as the Kings’ lead decision-maker.
The Kings are Karl’s sixth NBA coaching job after previous stints in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee and Denver. The 2013 NBA Coach of the Year ranks fifth on the NBA’s all-time coaching wins list — trailing only Don Nelson (1,335), Lenny Wilkens (1,332), Jerry Sloan (1,221) and Pat Riley (1,210) — with a career record of 1,175-824. He also has a career playoff record of 80-105.