George Karl’s tenure as the Sacramento Kings’ head coach went less than smoothly but one of the team’s star players warned him at the start.
As ESPN’s Marc Stein writes, when Karl was named the Kings’ head coach in February 2015, forward Rudy Gay approached him and gave a small glimpse into the team’s dysfunctional nature.
“An aside on Gay: He’s quoted in an advance copy of George Karl’s forthcoming book “Furious George,” due to be published in January by HarperCollins, as telling Karl when he met the new Sacramento coach for the first time in February 2015, “Welcome to basketball hell.”
Karl went on to lead Sacramento to an 11-19 record in 30 games to finish the 2015-16 NBA season. The following year – after signing a four-year, $15 million extension – Karl’s volatile relationship with the Kings’ All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins took center stage. Numerous reports discussed the duo’s poor communication, some of which stemmed from Karl’s comments that no player is “untradable.”
"I never felt I got into a good place with Cuz," Karl said to the Sacramento Bee after he was fired as head coach on April 14. "Some of that was my stupidity when I said that no player is untradable.
"I still believe that. But I should have been smart enough not to say it, and I in no way, at any time, thought DeMarcus was going to get traded."
All told, Karl led the Kings to a 44-68 record in parts of two seasons.
Prophetic words from Gay, who has expressed his own frustrations with the organization. In an interview with SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty in July, Gay – who has made it clear that he will opt-out of his deal with Sacramento next year to hit free agency – expressed his frustration with the team.
“At this point in my career, I think I want some kind of consistency and we don’t have that here, at all,” Gay said.