Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton said he is confident he’ll be back to coach the team for a third season, despite missing the playoffs in his first two.
The Kings haven’t been to the playoffs in 15 years, tying the Los Angeles Clippers franchise — a string that began in 1977 when the Clippers were known as the Buffalo Braves and ran through 1992 — for the NBA’s longest playoff drought.
“I’m very confident and, yeah, I love this group,” Walton said Friday night in Memphis, where the Kings lost to the Grizzlies, 107-106. “I love coaching these guys. I’m excited about trying to get Sacramento back into the playoffs.”
In two seasons with the Kings, Walton has a 62-81 record. The Kings were eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday with a 116-100 loss in the first of back-to-back games in Memphis.
The Kings close the season Sunday night against the Utah Jazz (51-20), who have held the league’s best record most of the season.
Walton said he has the next several months charted out for his young players.
“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, 41, 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.”
One player who wants to stick with Walton is point guard De’Aaron Fox, who told Sports Illustrated recently that he has come to trust his coach.
“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.
The Sacramento Bee said Walton reportedly has two years and $11.5 million left on his contract.
Walton previously coached the Los Angeles Lakers. His career record is 160-229.
–Field Level Media