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Kings will bring back coach Luke Walton-report

/ 02:54 PM May 18, 2021
Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton

Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton responds to a question during a news conference at the team’s media day in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Despite missing the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, the Sacramento Kings will bring back head coach Luke Walton for a third season, NBC Sports California reported Monday.

The Kings went 31-41 in each of Walton’s first two seasons in Sacramento, with the team finishing tied for 11th place in the Western Conference this season, two games outside of a spot in the play-in tournament.

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The Kings have not been to the playoffs in 15 years overall, tying the San Diego-Los Angeles Clippers/Buffalo Braves franchise for the NBA’s longest playoff drought.

“I’m very confident and, yeah, I love this group,” Walton said Friday night after the Kings lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, two days before they ended their season with a defeat against the Utah Jazz. “I love coaching these guys. I’m excited about trying to get Sacramento back into the playoffs.”

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The Kings were eliminated from the playoffs Thursday with a 116-100 loss in the first of back-to-back games at Memphis.

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,” the 41-year-old coach 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.”

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, who averaged a career-best 25.2 points with 7.2 assists per game in his fourth NBA season, was hoping his head coach would return.

“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, according to SI.com.

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