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Kings coach Luke Walton has offseason development plans for each of his players and he is confident he will return next season to help Sacramento try to end a 15-year playoff drought.
Walton was asked about his future with the organization during his pregame news conference as the Kings prepared to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at FedExForum in Memphis. Walton was specifically asked how much he wants to continue his work in Sacramento and how confident he is that he will return.
“I’m very confident and, yeah, I love this group,” Walton said. “I love coaching these guys. I’m excited about trying to get Sacramento back into the playoffs.”
First-year Kings general manager Monte McNair has important decisions to make this summer regarding his roster and possibly his coaching staff. Walton is reportedly owed $11.5 million over the next two seasons, but his job security has been the subject of speculation since McNair was hired in September to replace Vlade Divac, who hired Walton in April 2019.
Walton has posted a 62-81 (.434) record in two seasons with the Kings. He has the highest winning percentage of any Kings coach since Rick Adelman (.633) was at the helm from 1998-2006. Former coach Dave Joerger went 98-148 (.398) over three seasons in Sacramento. George Karl posted a 44-68 (.393) record over parts of two seasons with the Kings, who have churned through 10 coaches in 15 seasons since Adelman was fired.
The Kings were eliminated from playoff contention with a 116-110 loss to the Grizzlies on Thursday. They failed to reach the playoffs for the 15th year in a row, matching the Los Angeles Clippers for the longest postseason drought in NBA history.
McNair and Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé might choose to make a change, but McNair has expressed support for Walton when asked to assess his performance. Walton and his staff have made significant progress in their work with a number of players, including De’Aaron Fox, the 23-year-old point guard who signed a five-year, $163 million extension with the Kings in November. Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes have enjoyed career years, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III have shown growth, and Tyrese Haliburton had a sensational rookie season.
Fox seemingly threw his support behind Walton in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, calling Walton “someone that I’ve grown to trust” while making a case for continuity.
“Everybody wants to continue to grow together and keep this group together, and continue to play for a coach that you trust in,” Fox said.
Walton said the organization has a plan for each player’s individual development in the offseason. He sounded fairly certain he will be staying in Sacramento to put that plan in motion.
“We have an offseason plan put in place from when they’re going to be in Sacramento, and what coaches will be working with them, and what we need them focused on,” Walton said. “Clearly, a big thing for all young players is developing in the weight room as well, but it’s good, after you get a taste of what the NBA is all about, to be able to really fine tune some things in the offseason. So we’ll have a specific plan for each player that needs to be given and then it’s up to the players and staff to really put that to work this summer.”