Sacramento Kings Fire Coach Luke Walton After Slow Start; Name Alvin Gentry Interim Coach – USA TODAY

Entering the NBA season, only one NBA head coach was truly on the hot seat.

That was Sacramento’s Luke Walton, and on Sunday, the Kings fired him after a 6-11 start, the team announced. Walton is the first NBA coach dismissed this season.

Former NBA coach Alvin Gentry was named interim coach, the Kings also announced Sunday afternoon while confirming Walton’s dismissal.

Walton, who was also fired by the Los Angeles Lakers after three seasons, was 68-93 in two-plus seasons with Sacramento, going 31-41 in his first two seasons with the franchise.

Even in a deep Western Conference, expectations were higher for the Kings, who are in 12th place in the conference. 

The Kings rank 26th in defensive efficiency, and their season has been marked by both close and blowout losses. A recent four-game losing streak coupled with just one victory in the team’s last eight games sealed Walton’s fate.

Walton was Sacramento’s eighth coach, including interim coaches, in the past 11 seasons, and the Kings have not reached the playoffs or had a winning record since 2005-2006.

The next coach will have to deal with a the same issue Walton did: a lack of talent on the roster. The Kings are still reeling from selecting Marvin Bagley No. 2 in the 2018 draft – ahead of Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young. Bagley is no longer part of Sacramento’s plans, having played in just four games this season.

Second-year general manager Monte McNair is tasked with finding the right coach and improving the roster.

Before leading the Kings, Walton coached the Lakers for three seasons and went 98-148 with no playoff appearances. 

Prior to his first head coaching job, Walton was an assistant for the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors and served as interim head coach for the first 43 games (39-4 record) the next season while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery.

In 2019, a civil lawsuit against Walton that alleged sexual assault was dropped.

Walton is the son of Basketball Hall of Famer and ESPN college basketball analyst Bill Walton.