By JOSH DUBOW
AP Sports Writer
The Sacramento Kings have fired coach Luke Walton after getting off to a disappointing start in his third season in charge, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Walton was informed of the decision a day after a 123-105 home loss to Utah that dropped the Kings to 6-11 on the season, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the move.
ESPN first reported the firing.
Walton had a 68-93 record in two-plus seasons as coach, failing to get Sacramento back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
The Kings ranked near the bottom of the league in several defensive statistics under Walton’s leadership, including scoring and shooting percentage.
Sacramento has tried to build a core around recent lottery picks like De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell.
But the biggest mistake came the year before Walton arrived when Sacramento took Marvin Bagley III second overall, ahead of both Luka Doncic and Trae Young. Bagley has played in only four games this season as he has fallen out of favor.
The Kings have been at the bottom of the league for years, with their current 15-year stretch without a playoff berth tied for the longest in NBA history with the Clippers franchise, which missed the playoffs from 1977-91 while playing in Buffalo, San Diego and Los Angeles.
Walton posted 31-41 records in each of his first two seasons but was unable to take a step forward this year and was fired after losing seven of the past eight games.
The situation in Sacramento has been so bad that Walton’s .422 winning percentage with the team is the second best of the 18 coaches since the franchise moved to California in 1985.
Rick Adelman had a mark of .633 and led the Kings to the playoffs and a winning record in all eight seasons in charge. Sacramento hasn’t had a winning record in a season with any other coach since leaving Kansas City.
The Kings have not announced an interim coach but have the experienced Alvin Gentry on staff.
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