The Sacramento Kings chose their new head coach over the weekend. It came down to two finalists. In the end, the Kings are going with current Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown over former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson. Neither name is all that exciting, but Sacramento made the right choice going with Brown.
Based on the fallout with Jackson and Golden State, and what went on behind the scenes, the Kings made the best choice. I’ll even go as far as saying they probably dodged a bullet not hiring Jackson. While coaching the Warriors, Jackson once attempted to turn the locker room against an injured player, claiming he was rooting against them to lose so he would look good.
So much went down with Jackson in Golden State that I’m sure Sacramento caught wind of it and decided that wasn’t the best route. Honestly, Brown is a much better coach than Jackson will ever be. Sure, Brown had a young LeBron James in Cleveland and did most of his winning during those five years.
But what winning NBA head coach didn’t have an all-time great superstar or multiple stars? I’m not putting Brown on the level of any Hall-of-Fame coach, all I’m saying is you need stars in this league to win. We hear about this all the time in the NBA. Finding star players, whether you draft and develop them or poach a couple in free agency, that’s how you win in the NBA.
Now Brown is tasked with resurrecting a moribund franchise that hasn’t experienced the postseason since 2005-06, which just so happened to be Brown’s first year coaching the Cavs. Since then, Sacramento hasn’t finished a season with a winning percentage higher than .476. Needless to say, Brown has his work cut out for him.
Hopefully, Brown can take what he’s learned working on Golden State’s staff over the last six years and implement some of that in Sacramento without being too much like the Warriors, as we’ve seen how that’s worked out for the rest of the league when you don’t have the personnel to play like the Warriors. Brown will have some young talent to work with, like De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Davion Mitchell.
Since the Kings are in a stacked Western Conference and Pacific Division, it will take a couple of years before we see any noteworthy improvement in Sacramento. At this point, making a Play-in Tournament appearance would be a significant improvement for the Kings. Just finish in the top 10 out West. Sacramento finished the year in 12th place, and just four games out of the play-in this season. So, they were close, but not really.
Brown could change the culture in Sacramento, if the front office stays out of the way and allows him; but they’ve got to be patient. It won’t happen overnight. Brown’s last head coaching tenure, which was his second run in Cleveland, lasted all of one season. That Cavs team was also young, “led” by Kyrie Irving and others. Had Dan Gilbert been more patient, they would’ve put the old band back together just a year later when LeBron returned home for the 2014-15 campaign.
Something else that’s pretty glaring about the Kings hiring Brown is their continued infatuation with former Warriors coaches. There’s the previously mentioned Brown and Jackson, and there’s Luke Walton, Mike Malone, and Alvin Gentry, to name a few. Sacramento is about 90 minutes up the road from San Francisco, but come on. The Kings continue to hire all these guys from Golden State, and none have worked out. I think that’s more of a front office thing, but maybe Brown can overcome that aspect. It won’t be easy, but I just want him to get more than one crack at it.
The last time Brown was head coach of an NBA franchise, only 16 teams made the postseason. We essentially have 2/3 of The Association playing past the 82-game regular season with the play-in. Brown will need to have these Kings in one of those 10 spots out West within a year or two. Let’s just hope management doesn’t sabotage his efforts by trading away more promising talent as the Kings have been known to do.