After declining to elaborate on the Kings’ courting of George Karl, the team’s two key players opened up about the coaching soap opera that has left Tyrone Corbin a lame duck at midseason.
Before the Kings played the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at United Center, center DeMarcus Cousins issued a statement through his agents at Relativity Sports and urged the Kings to make a final decision.
“I wasn’t consulted when the decision was made to fire Mike Malone and I’m not being consulted now,” Cousins said. “I just hope they make a decision soon and stick with it.
“George Karl is an experienced, proven coach and if that is who they chose to coach this team, I will support it. I do not like all these discussions in the media while we have a coach in place. It is a distraction and not fair to coach Corbin and this team.”
Cousins declined to discuss the statement after the Kings lost to Chicago 104-86.
Forward Rudy Gay said the situation has not been ideal for Corbin, adding the coach has been a professional, even with Karl expected to replace him after Wednesday’s game at Milwaukee.
“He’s been great about it,” Gay said. “Obviously, it’s hard not to hear about it or be around it, but he’s been great about it. He’s been very, very in tune with the game and tried to get these wins.
“You have to commend him,” Gay continued. “I think what happened earlier in the season shocked everyone, and he came in and did what he could.”
The Kings are 7-20 under Corbin. The struggles on the court angered fans already turned off by Malone’s firing. Some brought signs to games calling for Karl to be hired. Others said they would decline to renew their season tickets or attend games.
Social media has been flooded with Kings fans calling for the team to hire Karl, who even thanked Kings fans for their support via his Twitter account.
Talk of a new coach has worn on the team as it plays for a coach who was told he’d be around the rest of the season.
Corbin declined to discuss if he’d even spoken to management.
“I’m just concentrating on the game (Tuesday) and the game (Wednesday) in Milwaukee and we’ll move from there,” Corbin said.
Gay was asked if the front office settling on Karl would calm things down and allow the team to move forward.
“I guess,” Gay said. “I try to stay out of that. I just try to come in and do my job every day. That’s on them. That’s their job to do that for us.”
Corbin admitted the last few days have “been difficult with all the speculation going around.”
“I’ve been through a lot in this league,” Corbin said. “I played for 16 years, been coaching for 12 years. It’s been a difficult time, but it’s part of being in this league.
“I can’t feel sorry for myself and allow these guys to feel sorry for themselves. We’re going to try and do our jobs to the best of our ability. That’s all anybody can ask.”
Corbin stepped into a tough situation, replacing the popular Malone. Chris Jent, Malone’s lead assistant before Corbin joined the staff this season, also departed when Malone was fired. The moves left the coaching staff scrambling to fill roles and players questioning the franchise’s direction.
“It’s been a tough situation,” Cousins said. “Not just for the players but the coaching staff as well. All of us got thrown into it. To the best of our ability, we’re going to try to get it done.”
Corbin has avoided discussing his status since the Kings’ negotiations with Karl became public. The team met with Karl more than a week ago.
Corbin said he and the team don’t have time to worry about a coaching change.
“This is what we do. This is our job,” Corbin said. “My job is to coach the team. Their job is to go out and play. Milwaukee is not going to feel sorry for us; they’re going to try to embarrass us. We’ve got to make sure we got our minds wrapped around the last game before the All-Star break, give a good effort and see what happens.”