Kings’ Karl among NBA coaching casualties

Head coach George Karl of the Sacramento Kings, pictured on February 23, 2016, is fired

Los Angeles (AFP) – The Sacramento Kings made it official on Thursday, sacking head coach George Karl a day after completing a 33-49 season and missing the NBA playoffs.

“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 president of basketball operations 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.

“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.”

Karl almost lost his job in November after feuding publicly with star center DeMarcus Cousins. He was reportedly already headed for the exit when he coached Sacramento’s final game of the season on Wednesday night — a 116-81 loss to the Houston Rockets.

ESPN reported that the 64-year-old Karl will receive the remaining $6.5 million guaranteed from his four-year contract.

He was hired during the 2015 All-Star break to replace then-interim coach Tyrone Corbin, but was unable to end a Kings playoff drought that has now stretched over 10 straight seasons.

The Washington Wizards officially parted ways with coach Randy Wittman on Thursday, choosing not to pick up the option on his contract.

“There were high internal and external expectations for this team coming into this season based on the momentum we had generated over the previous two years,” said Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. 

“Unfortunately, the inconsistency of the team’s performance and effort, particularly on our home court, did not allow us to meet those expectations and we decided a coaching change was needed.”

Wittman originally was promoted to head coach on Jan. 24, 2012, and compiled a 178-199 overall record in 4½ seasons with the Wizards. During his tenure, the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs twice, in 2014 and 2015.

This season the Wizards finished 41-41, a combination of injuries and defensive deficiencies contributing to their failure to make the playoffs.

Karl and Wittman weren’t the only coaching casualties as the season ended. The Minnesota Timberwolves announced on Wednesday night that they would be looking outside the organization for a replacement for Sam Mitchell — who was installed as interim head coach in September when the team announced that head coach Flip Saunders was battling the cancer from which he passed away in October.


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